Ultrabooks: The price is right, finally

Ultrabooks: The price is right, finally

Summary: $699 is the Goldilocks starting price point for ultrabooks.

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One of the key factors that determines the success or failure of a product is price. Price the product too high and buyers will shun it. Price it too low and the profit margins become razor thin and it hardly becomes worthwhile the OEM selling it. Ultrabooks are set for a price shuffle that will see them enter that price sweet spot.

According to Intel there are 75 new ultrabook models in development to tempt buyers. Not only that, but by the key back-to-school period this year Intel predicts that these ultralight, ultrathin devices will have dropped in price from the $800+ mark to the Goldilocks starting price point of $699.

It's only a $100 difference, but it's key. Initially there was concern among some analysts -- a concern that I shared -- that Apple's MacBook Air would overshadow competing ultrabooks because the average price was too high at around the $999+ mark.

Pulling the starting price down by $100 will have the effect of pulling all the prices down by a similar amount, making ultrabooks more attractive all round.

That $999 price point is key, because that's the starting price for MacBook Air. Products priced above this barrier are at risk of cannibalization from Apple's own ultralight, ultrathin laptop.

Even those who want Windows can be lured to the MacBook Air because it's easy to load Windows onto a Mac using Boot Camp multi-boot tool. This anticipated price drop should make ultrabooks more attractive than the MacBook Air to those who might have thought about making a switch to Mac.

Do I recommend that you buy an ultrabook now? No, I don't. My recommendation is that you wait for Windows 8-powered ultrabooks to make an appearance. This new operating system is better suited to these types of devices than Windows 7 is, and by then we should be seeing better hardware, better battery life and lower prices.

Unless you have money burning in your pocket, or need an ultrabook now, I'd hold on to your cash for the time being.

Image credit: Microsoft/Lenovo.

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Topics: Software, Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Windows

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10 comments
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  • if not for touch screen

    windows 8 is no better for window 7.

    I am going to remove window 8 from my touch screen convertible. May give it another try when 8 is officially come out.
    FADS_z
    • I am struggling to understand . . .

      . . . the purpose of your post and what it has to do with the price of ultrabooks.
      Wakemewhentrollsgone
      • you dont read the article

        "wait for Windows 8" is right there.
        FADS_z
      • @Habiloso .. the purpose of his post

        ... was crystal clear:

        [i]The smoker you are, the player you get.[/i]
        thx-1138_
  • Umm

    This may wrestle a few people away from the Air but, we will see how things turn out.
    slickjim
  • So, Why Is Intel Wrestling Business Away From the Macbook Air?

    Doesn't make sense... Unless Intel lost the Air contract? That would be funny. Even more funny that Intel is hiring all the Ultraclone makers to bash Apple now?
    RichardEich
    • Theyre not, theyre just growing the market. 90% of potential ultrabook

      buyers want nothing to do with apples overpriced hw and it's limited choices. Intel wants a wide range of nw specs and price points available to expand its consumer base.
      Johnny Vegas
      • With MBA clones, Intel fights not MBA, but iPad, where no Intel inside

        As Jobs himself said in 2010, MBA could be the answer to iPad.

        Intel would not be doing an attack on Apple if iPad would use Intel. But iPad is going to take Intel's sales away, so they had to do this, even though they basically stole Apple's intellectual property with bribing notebook makers doing clones of MBA (with huge marketing fund).
        DDERSSS
      • What intellect

        Actually, I think not. Please let you be an shill or whatever it is called, and not an actual human being. Because if you were real then it is truly sad.
        ego.sum.stig
  • The Ultrabooks suffer from overhype

    All of those ultrabooks are cheap clones of the Macbook Air. The few that have comparable spec are noticeably more expensive. So much about the overpriced Apple hardware..

    Because those portables are aimed at the people with money in their hands, it is all wrong. Those people do not really care for the $100 difference. They would simply go and buy the real thing: the Apple Macbook Air (which likely will get way better this year, once again).

    The other goal, to replace the current notebooks with those ultraportables is not very likely, because a true ultraportable will need to have FLASH storage (anyone who ever tried such knows and won't go back to spinning disks) but so far, FLASH storage is relatively expensive. You can't convince people to replace a $500 "normal" notebook with an $1000 ultraportable with lower performance, lighter, thinner etc -- simply because those on budget would not care.

    What remains is the tiny group of "me too" fans, who want to say "I have something like the Macbook Air, but only mine is cheaper!"... or the anti-Apple fanatics.

    So this is either some mistake by someone at Intel, or an attempt to push sales of the Apple hardware further.
    danbi