Ultrabooks: The price is right, finally

$699 is the Goldilocks starting price point for ultrabooks.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

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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