Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices

Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices

Summary: Intel has invested a lot of money into launching the new Ultrabook laptop platform, hailing the ultra-thin form factor as the future of notebooks. While that still may be the case down the line, initial signs are that Ultrabooks aren't setting the world on fire, sales-wise.

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Intel has invested a lot of money into launching the new Ultrabook laptop platform, hailing the ultra-thin form factor as the future of notebooks. While that still may be the case down the line, initial signs are that Ultrabooks aren't setting the world on fire, sales-wise.

According to DigiTimes, two of the main Ultrabook vendors -- Acer and Asus -- are expected to ship fewer than half the target number of systems for the fourth quarter that they expected: around 100,000 instead of 200,000 or 300,000 units.

The site's sources claim that the first Ultrabooks available are priced too high to excite consumer demand. While Acer's Aspire S3 (pictured) costs $899, other Ultrabooks cost as much or more than the lowest-priced MacBook Air ($999), the obvious inspiration for the Ultrabook platform. Even priced at $899, these laptops may be too costly for consumers who will settle for a $500 notebook instead, especially as the economy continues to sputter.

As Intel rolls out Ivy Bridge and Microsoft rolls out Windows 8, Ultrabooks may become more attractive to buyers, DigiTimes points out, especially if vendors can continue to find ways to lower the price tag for the new laptops. Thus far, however, those buyers haven't responded to the new platform in the way Intel may have hoped.

Have you purchased an Ultrabook yet? Let us know your thoughts in the Talkback section.

Topics: Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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43 comments
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  • RE: Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices

    Optic drive is a must for me, so no ultrabooks are not an option.
    lepoete73
    • RE: Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices

      @lepoete73
      that's the nice to have, but the most important missing ingredient is Linux or android. windoze is a non starter.
      The Linux Geek
      • Yeah we all see how well linux netbooks did after windows came into the

        market. Customers voted with their wallets and linux went from owning the market to disappeared. How stupid would an ultrabook oem have to be to ship with linux? VERY!
        Johnny Vegas
    • RE: Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices

      Toshiba's Protege includes an optical drive.
      PR.Sherpa
  • RE: Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices

    Just because they just came out with it, doesn't mean I or anyone else will rush to buy. The first MacBook air wasn't an instant hit either.
    kingcobra23
    • RE: Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices

      @kingcobra23 So really if you think about it Apple is the only one that's going to be making money since for Apple users the MacBook Air is cheap!! they are used to paying high prices...
      Hasam1991
    • RE: Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices

      @kingcobra23 I agree. I think the main hindrance in both cases was/is price. The initial MBA's were pricey. Now, they're reasonable and selling far better.

      These Ultrabooks are in the same situation. People are accustomed to Windows devices costing significantly less than similar-specification Macs. Yet, these Ultrabooks cost the same, or more. Remember, there have been tiny form-factor laptops (remember ultra-portables?) available for many years, but they've always been incredibly overpriced. As a result, they never sold very well. When netbooks came out, they took off because they were dirt cheap and highly portable, but limited. People (unreasonably) expected that Ultrabooks would be similarly priced to netbooks, but more functional. Now that the reality is apparent, people are finding the price difference, added weight, shorter battery life, and larger size harder to justify versus a netbook. I think most who were considering an Ultrabook will instead wait to see what Windows 8 tablets are like when they appear. Sadly, they will likely find the same disappointments. Win8 tabs are likely to be more expensive, heavier, thicker, and with shorter battery life than an iPad or Android tablet. The moral is, you can't have your cake and eat it, too.
      BillDem
  • RE: Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices

    One you let the netbook genie out of the bottle there's no putting him back in. Consumers expect tiny notebooks to cost $300.00 or less. Trying for a $700 price hike is an act of hubris, nothing less. I don't care how great the specs are. The current crop of netbooks does 90% of what consumers need as it is.

    To be competitive, ultrabooks should have started at $499.00. Consumers will swallow a $200 increase if they think they're getting a much better product. But they're not going to pay more than double when what they've got now works just fine.
    dsf3g
    • RE: Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices

      @dsf3g
      Uhhhh.... Your comment about price expectation is so close to true....people are SPOILED by the lowest prices....but to say that netbooks can satisfy 90% of what consumers need is pure bulls**t.

      If and when I can afford to get a new laptop, it will be an Ultrabook. Might be next year, but it sure as heck won't be a POS netbook.
      slimmac1
      • RE: Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices

        @slimmac1 <br><br>Yes actually, netbooks can do 90% of what comsumers do. What do most people do with a computer? Facebook, e-mail and a bit of web browsing. A basic netbook can accomplish all that without a problem except for the screen size and the lack of optical drive it does it all, maybe a bit slower than other laptops would but it still does it.
        lepoete73
      • lepoete73: iPad is even better

        "What do most people do with a computer? Facebook, e-mail and a bit of web browsing"

        I would argue (along with millions of others) that an iPad can perform these tasks even better than a netbook can. I admit that I did purchase a keyboard for my iPad since it does make text entry a lot faster but I almost never browse or email using a computer any more, it is all done on my iPad. The netbooks I've tried have been slower and even more frustrating, have had terrible trackpads. The trackpad is what kills the netbook for me.
        toddybottom
      • RE: Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices

        @toddybottom

        I would argue (along with millions of others) that an iPad can perform these tasks even better than a netbook can.

        Maybe, but not everybody want to put all that money on an iPad with all its limits (storage space, iTune only sync, no memory card slut, etc.) when you can get a netbook for less than 250$ now.
        lepoete73
      • Better options than an iPad

        @toddybottom:

        For someone looking for a COMPUTER in that price range or lower, the AMD systems with E-350 APU's are perfect. HD video, a real DX11 GPU, dual-core processing, and it runs Windows. You get a game-capable (not at high-detail settings, but still usable), HD video pumping system that runs all of your regular computer software. If you get an ultraportable (~11.6-13" screen) your battery life is better than an average laptop too.

        And did I mention that the hardware keyboard is included?

        Better than Intel. Better than iPad.
        Joe_Raby
      • RE: Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices

        @slimmac1 IU disagree. The average consumer spends the vast majority of their time on Facebook, surfing the web, doing e-mail, tweeting, uploading & sharing photos, watching Youtube videos, online shopping, doing homework research, typing documents in MS Word, tracking expenses on Spreadsheets, online banking, streaming movies, building the occasional Power Point or Project Schedule, managing their home network, Skyping or video chatting...... All of these things are tasks that a Netbook an EASILY handle with ease. My 11.6 Acer does all of this and more with ease. Netbooks are much more powerful that most people give them credit. My Teens (all 3 of them have netbooks) love theirs and would not give them up for the world. They all have the MS office suite on them and run it easily.

        So far everyone that has use my Acer Aspire One 721 11.6" Netbook has been amazed that is just as fast and powerful as their laptop or notebook for what they use it for.
        tgschmidt
    • RE: Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices

      @dsf3g "The current crop of netbooks does 90% of what consumers need as it is."

      As a current netbook user - the thing is as crappy as they come. I got my netbook because I couldn't afford much more. I was in college.

      But my g**, it's awful. It barely does the thing it was designed to do - surf the internet. Frankly, the "net" in netbook is a joke.

      -Heavy JavaScript and Flash apps and games bring it to a crawl.
      -You can't have many tabs open.
      -Even if you hook up a monitor capable of 720p or 1080p video to it, forget it. The GPU and CPU simply can't keep up. If you're watching YouTube, you're always going to be in SD.
      -Some Flash apps and games can't even fit into the window. The vertical resolution is 600, whereas the minimum for a lot of stuff is 768.
      -You really can't have more than one or two major apps open. There's not enough memory to have much open at once.
      -Regular games are limited mostly to 10-15 year old titles for 3D games, and 5-10 years old for 2D. Even a casual gamer will find it rather limiting.
      -Much of the time you're in Autoruns by Sysinternals looking for stuff to turn off. You certainly need to look for any baggage with any new app you install. Keeping it performing well is a chore in itself.

      Yeah, I could take notes and do homework on it when I was in college, and that's why I bought it. But the experience is pretty abysmal otherwise.

      And even then - word processing wasn't fast and snappy. There were times when I wish it were a bit faster and snappier. It's not really a fast, snappy experience. It's usually sluggish.

      Did it do the job? Yeah.

      Could it be a lot better, even for "90%" of users? Yeah. It could certainly be a lot better.
      CobraA1
    • RE: Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices

      @dsf3g I totally agree. We now have 4 Netbooks in the house & they get used for 99% of our computing needs. I have an 11.6 Acer & the 3 teens have 10.1 Acers. Our PC only gets used about 2 or 3 times a month now and that is pretty much just because it has the main software for the wireless printer & wireless router on it.<br><br>We also have a Verizon 4GLTE Myfi hotspot so the Netbooks get taken everywhere.<br><br>I purchased a USB CD/DVD R/RW drive so all of them can have an optical drive too. The kids have 22" LCD's and wireless keyboards & mice at their desks so when they plug in their Netbooks they basically have a desktop.<br><br>Ultrabooks are going to have a hard time competing with a $300 or less Netbook that has that this much capability & flexibility.
      tgschmidt
  • RE: Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices

    Why settle for a half-arsed copy?
    enzos2
  • Yup

    I knew it.

    First, the biggest complaint from the average uninformed prospective notebook customer is that there's no optical drive on a thin-and-light system. Second, performance just isn't there. Third, multimedia support on the low-cost models (which are still $1000) generally sucks due to Intel's piss-poor integrated GPU. When someone buys a system for $800 or more, they expect it to play some pretty mainstream games, or have the balls to run GPU acceleration for apps. Fourth, lack of ports.

    Yes, the biggest slice of my customers represent the "average Joe-user" type that would just as soon go to a big-box store and buy something that is full-featured. In general, mobility is rarely something that average users think about until I ask them. I sell mostly Lenovo systems, and I've sold a good number of x120e's to those concerned about mobility, but not a single ThinkPad One.

    Just FYI: ARM will likely kill Intel in this market once Windows 8 ships because the cost of their chips is far cheaper, don't require expensive material costs for elaborate cooling solutions, and the systems will be far cheaper and have better battery life. If you can sell a system in the under $500 price point, consumers are willing to reduce their expectations too. Most are still surprised by what they can get in a smaller-screen but thicker ultraportable vs. a thin-and-light.
    Joe_Raby
  • RE: Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices

    If they sell it for $799 as well, I would be willing to pay a little more and buy the best - Macbook Air. If the ultrabooks are sold at $599, then I would think about it. If it sells for $299, I would definitely buy it. If it is sold for $99....
    browser.
    • I wonder how many people think like you do?

      @browser.
      If a significant number of people think like you do then the ultrabook market is dead and all that will be left is yet another Apple monopoly in what will be known as the MacBook Air market. No manufacturer can make an ultrabook with MacBook Air specifications for 40% less and still make a profit.

      I'm not suggesting your point of view is wrong. It is your opinion and as an opinion, it is totally valid and understandable. I'm only curious to know how many people have the same opinion you do. If there are significant numbers then the ultrabook market is dead because these will not be profitable at the prices you say you are willing to buy them.
      toddybottom