Ultrabooks: Price to hamper initial demand

Ultrabooks: Price to hamper initial demand

Summary: PC makers are being conservative about initial ultrabook demand. That's a good call given the current pricing.

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Acer, Lenovo, Toshiba and other PC vendors selling ultrabooks---thin, light notebooks designed to evolve the trusty laptop---are playing it safe with inventory amid fears of weak demand.

According to DigiTimes, notebook manufacturers are keeping initial ultrabook runs at 50,000 units. That unit total is enough to test the waters, but little else.

Last week, Lenovo and Toshiba unveiled their ultrabooks. The devices looked sharp, well designed, but expensive. Intel has touted its ultrabook reference design, but prices appear to start above $1,000. That price tag isn't going to cut it with the mass market when the MacBook Air will run you $999 to start.

Meanwhile, you just know prices will fall. Why buy an ultrabook for above $1,000 when this skinny laptop will go for $699 or so in six months?

DigiTimes noted that ultrabook manufacturers are wary of a weak economy. However, that factor is only one part of the equation. The reality is that ultrabooks need to get less expensive in a hurry if they are going to boost PC sales overall.

Topics: Hardware, Enterprise Software, Laptops, Lenovo, Mobility, Toshiba

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16 comments
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  • RE: Ultrabooks: Price to hamper initial demand

    After seeing all those new ultrabooks, Apple hardware (mac books etc) is not attractive anymore. An ultrabook with i7 processor for $700 will be a killer device.
    owlnet
    • Well, heck, why not just sell it for $99? After all

      everyone knows that selling price of a product is purely arbitrary and has nothing at all to do with the cost of actually building and selling the thing.
      baggins_z
    • Harry Potter has one

      If you're going to put an i7 in an ultrabook and sell it for $700, you may as well have it cure cancer. Once we enter the world of fanciful magic, anything is possible.
      Robert Hahn
    • Killer Device is right. The company won't survive.

      @owlnet

      It is interesting that people still don't seem to be getting the fact that the current PC pricing model is not sustainable. HP is bailing out because they can't make enough. Trying to under cut Apple, who is moving millions of units of these type of systems will cripple a company.
      dhmccoy
  • RE: Ultrabooks: Price to hamper initial demand

    I don't know why we can't get an Apple to apples comparison as the 11" (a netbook by another name) MBA is $999 whereas these ultrabooks are 13.3". Just sayin'
    hoaxoner
    • The staple is selling samsung 11" (princeton) for $600

      @hoaxoner
      Intel Core i3-2357M processor (1.30GHz)
      4GB installed memory
      320GB hard drive
      nice device, but I will wait.
      ZenithY
    • RE: Ultrabooks: Price to hamper initial demand

      @hoaxoner <br><br>I'd love to drink the Koolaid that allows you to believe a laptop with an i5 Processor, an SSD, a backlit keyboard and a screen with the SAME resolution as a 13 inch with a HIGHER specific pixel density is "a netbook by another name"...<br><br>These Ultrabook things are going to have to REALLY step up the game with significantly higher resolution display options if they are to be remotely successful at ANYTHING over the Air's price point.

      You can keep your low res run of the mill 13.3 inch display at 1366x768... Not to mention the fact that the 13 inch Air clocks in at 1440x900 for 1299.00.
      Playdrv4me
  • Message has been deleted.

    antonyrichards
  • It should not

    If PC makers stop making their stupid games of producing as many as cheap device as they can.
    Seriously what hurt the PC industry currently is not the price of computers but more likely the lack of quality, the lack of appeal and the lack of evolution.
    If PC OEM focused on producing significant less models per OEM but much better, much more inovative and more durable devices, then i am sure they would manage to be profitable without selling of tons of them.
    The previous business model is dying thus it is time to start a new paradigm.
    I hope that Microsoft and its OEM have plan to induce a quantum leap in the PC industry otherwise the coming years will be hard.
    And no i do not consider ultrabooks as significant leap in the right direction.
    However the concept of Home/Cell based private cloud that you can see as:
    1. at least one (or two for redundancy) very powerful PC (all this extra power should be used for something) which would be a multimedia and application server for several mobile devices be it smartphones ,tablet or light notebook.
    2. The mobile devices would be able to stream data, multimedia content or even apps from the PC either from the local network or from the internet. The mobile devices could also be used as thin client for some applications executed on the PC.
    If Microsoft and at least one partner is able to implement such a concept than it could trigger a quantum leap in the PC industry.
    timiteh
  • RE: Ultrabooks: Price to hamper initial demand

    It's interesting to read all of the whining from PC OEMs about being able to compete in this market. They all still have a 'race to the bottom' mentality and only think they can compete on price. In fact, they are apparently correct in that thought. Apple owns the +$1K market because they don't compromise on quality. Apple is making upwards of 37% profit on their MBAs while the clone army is whining about how slim their margins are in the same category.
    How does Apple do it? Quality for one. They don't compromise on quality builds. Also, they happen to be in the enviable position of being the world's largest use of flash memory. Think SSDs here. Because of their commitment and cash they can make good money off of the SSDs. Asus, Acer, and the others are retail shoppers by comparison.
    dheady@...
  • RE: Ultrabooks: Price to hamper initial demand

    Lots of people wonder why anyone would pay $500 for a tablet when they could get a laptop with better specs for less money. Now come laptops made with the same "lighter and thinner" discipline used in tablets, and it turns out they cost almost double what tablets cost, and more than double what "thicker and heavier" laptops cost.

    Here's where we find out whether the incredible lightness of tablets trumps the functionality of laptops. Will people pay double to gain more portability? I can see some people with high incomes, and buying for their personal use, doing it. But I don't see very many corporations buying high-priced ultrabooks for the road warriors.
    Robert Hahn
  • RE: Ultrabooks: Price to hamper initial demand

    Here's what I don't understand with Lenovo... They ALREADY make something that could be construed as an "Ultrabook" style machine in the Thinkpad X1, which retails for around 1299.00 AND it's a genuine Thinkpad.<br><br>How are they supposed to compete with THEIR OWN PRODUCT with high supply costs and an entry price of $1199.00?
    Playdrv4me
  • RE: Ultrabooks: Price to hamper initial demand

    Well the market each company targets is going to produce different results. PC OEMS tend to go for the deal/bargain hunter, whether a student on a budget or a family with limited funds.<br><br>Apple makes crazy margins because they go up-market, with higher income consumers, along with offering fixed pricing. Nobody walks in to an Apple store with an Amazon print out, asking for a price match or with a "What can you do for me on price?" mindset.

    I'm no huge Apple lover (aside from their business model and operations side---they're a supply chain dynamo), but there's a benefit to making your products all about design and a quality build of materials: you get to charge a premium
    Theseus
    • RE: Ultrabooks: Price to hamper initial demand

      @Theseus - given that competitors are struggling to match Apple's prices on tablets and ultrabooks I'm not sure it's correct to say that Apple gets to charge a premium. Probably more correct to say that Apple declines to compete in the low price/low margin end of the market.
      rbgaynor
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