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Ultrabooks on the decline

About a month ago, Intel cut the outlook for its Q3 earnings by $1.1 billion. The reduction in earnings indicated that perhaps Intel's ultrabooks weren't selling as well as the company wanted. Intel originally hailed the ultrabook as the next big thing to revive the struggling PC economy. 
So far, ultrabooks haven't performed as well as expected in large part due to the high cost of the machines and increasing popularity of tablets. Research firm IHS iSuppli has cut its shipment expectations for ultrabooks globally during 2012. Previously, iSuppli expected 22 million ultrabooks to ship globally during 2012. The research firm has now cut that estimate to 10.3 million for the entire year.
The research firm cites two major reasons for poor sales in the ultrabook realm citing "nebulous marketing and unappealing price." ISuppli also points a finger at Intel as having to own up to standards that are too strict, confusing the marketplace between what's an ultrabook and what is an ultrathin notebook.

Sony VAIO T13
"So far, the PC industry has failed to create the kind of buzz and excitement among consumers that is required to propel ultrabooks into the mainstream," Craig Stice, IHS's senior principal analyst for computer platforms, wrote in the report.
The research firm also criticized pricing of ultrabooks that sit near $1000 for most units. The company believes that a price cut bringing ultrabooks and the $600-$700 price range could increase sales next year. When Intel first started counting the ultrabook, $600-$700 was the price range many expected the machines to come to market in.
ISuppli believes that Intel's new processor, code-named Haswell, expected to launch in the middle of 2013 will also help improve sales in the ultrabook market. Windows 8 is also expected to have an impact on sales in the segment.

Source: CNN

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By Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer on 10/2/2012 9:07:18 AM , Rating: 2
Boy, I didn't see that coming...

...said no one ever.

RE: Surprise...
By Samus on 10/2/2012 9:22:53 AM , Rating: 2
I've been recommending (and lots of people have been buying) the HP Folio 13 for awhile. It's the only reasonable priced Ultrabook (can be found for <$700) that includes a 120GB SSD and USB 3.0. One of my clients has dropped his a half dozen times and a hinge is even cracked...still works fine.

RE: Surprise...
By k2oStyle on 10/2/2012 9:27:49 AM , Rating: 2
I just bought Asus Zenbook UX31. I read many reviews before I decided to get this ultrabook. People are having so many problems with it. Sucky touchpad, light bleed, certain keys on the keyboard no longer working etc etc. It's true what they said about the touchpad, it's not that good even when I installed the new driver for it. Now I already felt like I outgrew it. I needed more HDD space, 128GB is not enough and Best Buy didn't have a 256GB version in store. I didn't want to wait because I be leaving to Asia this weekend.

Just knowing your computer can be upgraded later down the road is a reassuring. I know these won't last more than 3 years if I'm lucky. If Ultrabook wants to be success it have to do almost what a laptop can do. Faster CPU, more memory, better graphic etc. If they can do that, it will replace the laptop. DVD drive is no longer requirement.

RE: Surprise...
By StevoLincolnite on 10/2/2012 9:41:47 AM , Rating: 2
If Ultrabook wants to be success it have to do almost what a laptop can do.

See here is the problem to me... They are just a laptop but are on a strict diet in all aspects, be it the form factor or the hardware.

Recently (Like a week ago...) My Convertible Netbook/tablet that I have had for a few years went on a flying lesson so I'm currently looking for a replacement, ultrabooks don't appeal to me at the moment and instead leaning towards another 10" convertible Netbook/tablet if I can find one here in Australia.

RE: Surprise...
By Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer on 10/2/2012 10:39:15 AM , Rating: 2
I needed more HDD space, 128GB is not enough...knowing your computer can be upgraded later down the road is...reassuring.

Exactly. I recently bought a "real" laptop with 4GB of ram and a standard HDD (ThinkPad T430) and right now I'm thinking of swapping the HDD for a SSD, installing an mSATA SSD, and upgrading the RAM to 16GB.

A laptop that can dual-boot Windows 7 and Windows 8/Linux on separate drives with an internal optical drive and 16GB of RAM...yeah. Try doing that with an Ultrabook. I'll definitely take the weight penalty for that kind of flexibility and upgradability.

RE: Surprise...
By quiksilvr on 10/2/2012 9:33:56 AM , Rating: 2
Seriously. What were they expecting? News flash! $1000 under-powered laptops don't sell well. WHODATHUNK IT?!

RE: Surprise...
By Nutzo on 10/2/2012 11:13:07 AM , Rating: 5
Unless they have an Apple logo on them.

RE: Surprise...
By marvdmartian on 10/3/2012 10:00:11 AM , Rating: 1
Proof positive that Apple has corraled all the "I'll pay ANYTHING for that!" crowd, and left few of those people behind, for the Ultrabook industry to take advantage of.

Perhaps if they'd slashed the sales price of the ultrabooks, they wouldn't have had to slash the sales estimates??

RE: Surprise...
By slunkius on 10/3/2012 1:16:25 AM , Rating: 2
what's the use of such research companies? One day they say 22 million will be sold, half a year later they revise down to 10 million (55% miss).
I want into this forecasting business too.

It's all about cost
By corduroygt on 10/2/2012 10:22:28 AM , Rating: 3
People who spend over 1K don't buy PC's.

RE: It's all about cost
By StevoLincolnite on 10/2/2012 10:27:42 AM , Rating: 2
Not true. Enthusiasts can sometimes spend several multiples more than that for the absolute best that you cannot get anywhere else.
Mind you those same people wouldn't step down to an Ultrabook unless it had some decent GPU power. :P

RE: It's all about cost
By corduroygt on 10/2/2012 11:20:36 AM , Rating: 2
Most people aren't enthusiasts though, that's what I meant.
When someone's buying a laptop over 1K, they look for the Apple logo.

RE: It's all about cost
By kmmatney on 10/2/2012 4:22:47 PM , Rating: 2
A colleague of mine recently bought a new MacBook retina display, witha few upgrades for $3800! He is into photography, and has a $12000 camera, so I guess this was no big deal.

RE: It's all about cost
By Bad-Karma on 10/3/2012 1:40:00 AM , Rating: 2
When someone's buying a laptop over 1K, they look for the Apple logo.

I wouldn't make the assumption that every one has the same needs and requirements for a laptop as as yourself.

I purchase a Sager laptop a few weeks ago that I'm using for when I'm traveling. With what I need it to do it priced out at just over $5K. But it is beefy enough that I'm not limited by being away from my Xeon workstations at the home or office.

While Sager is usually considered a "gaming" laptop. My office has found that ability for RAID-0 configurations and multi-GPU for GPGPU work really well for distributed simulations and metric analysis when we are out in the field. We've even used them as adhoc SQL/Oracle DB servers when in a pinch.

That and it has no trouble playing a game or two when we're stuck out in some remote place with little or no night life.

RE: It's all about cost
By corduroygt on 10/3/2012 1:37:18 PM , Rating: 2
Someone = "majority of people" not niche power users.
I believe Apple has >%90 of computers above $1K market.

RE: It's all about cost
By Bad-Karma on 10/5/2012 4:22:34 AM , Rating: 2
Over the past 15-20 years I've spend quite a bit of time in meetings in aerospace/scientific/IT and several other fields. Whether someone is using their personal or business laptops, I've rarely seen any that aren't a $1K+ product. . And I can count on one hand the number of Macs accumulative at those meetings.

Business and research are not a "niche".

You should dial back your tendency toward definitive language as you do not speak for or represent "most people".

RE: It's all about cost
By nedsand on 10/2/2012 1:30:19 PM , Rating: 3
People who buy PC's don't have to spend over 1K.
There FIFY

Not really
By Motoman on 10/2/2012 9:43:23 AM , Rating: 2
confusing the marketplace between what's an ultrabook and what is an ultrathin notebook.

The labels we feel compelled, for some reason, to come up with for every possible variation of "laptop" are pretty irrelevant. No one walks into a BBY or whatever, looks at an "ultrabook" and says "oh no, I had my heart set on an ultrathin notebook."

People say they want a "small" or "big" laptop. They want a "cheap" one or a "powerful" one...or most frequently, one that will "just do the basic word processing and email that I do...OH and Facebook!"

There is precious little market available for someone who "needs" a small form factor laptop with powerful processing capability. Anyone doing any kind of serious "work" of any kind is highly unlikely to want to do so on a 10" screen. Anyone who wants to game is not going to want to do so on a 10" screen. Conversely, people who would probably be OK with a 10" screen are probably people who don't need much power...and therefore don't see any sense in spending $700 to $1500 on something that won't do any better from them than a $300 budget machine.

Not to mention the lack of an optical drive on such machines. Any and every time I point that out to someone, the response tends to be "that's the dumbest f%cking thing I've ever heard of."

Sure, there's a few people out there willing to spend the big bucks for these things. But for the most part, they're a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

RE: Not really
By BSMonitor on 10/2/12, Rating: -1
RE: Not really
By Beenthere on 10/2/2012 10:10:56 AM , Rating: 2
Hint: WiFi isn't a replacement for an optical drive.

Dumbphones and tablets are e-toys not PCs.

Maybe you should not be insulting other people when you are technically and socially deficient?

RE: Not really
By Motoman on 10/2/2012 3:34:28 PM , Rating: 2
"Hi, I just bought this <ultrabook> and I can't figure out how to install my Quickbooks on it..."

"Do you have a CD, or did you download Quickbooks?"

"I have the CD I bought at the store."

"OK, well the kind of laptop you bought doesn't have CD drives. You'll have to buy an external one to install from that disk."

"That's the dumbest f%cking thing I've ever heard of."

"...and don't ask about how to watch your DVD or BD movies either. Or how to listen to your CDs."


"Because those answers will also be the dumbest f%cking thing you've ever heard of."

RE: Not really
By StevoLincolnite on 10/2/2012 10:24:45 AM , Rating: 2
Your smartphone and tablets do not have them either, noob.

lOOK at the form factors. A CD/DVD/Bluray drive is larger than most phones (And some tablets!), common sense dictates you cannot place a square block in a round hole.

RE: Not really
By Solandri on 10/2/2012 1:50:49 PM , Rating: 2
Apple and Intel marketing has somehow convinced people that these are some new category of notebook. They're not new, just the name is new. In the past, notebooks in this category have been called thin & light, and ultraslims. Even the tapered form doesn't originate with the Apple Air - Sony had one in 2003. They're great if you need the portability and are willing to pay extra for it (I usually have). But as others have posted, they're a dead end if you need significant upgrades. I got around the problem by selling the old one and buying a new one every 1.5-2 years.

Also, from the article:
About a month ago, Intel cut the outlook for its Q3 earnings by $1.1 billion. The reduction in earnings indicated that perhaps Intel's ultrabooks weren't selling as well as the company wanted.

That doesn't make sense. Intel makes money off of every CPU and chipset sold. If ultrabooks weren't selling well, you'd expect people to be buying regular notebooks instead and Intel's earnings would remain about the same. For Intel's earnings to be down, laptop and/or desktop sales overall have to be down. Which wouldn't be surprising IMHO since CPUs have gotten so fast that people can realistically buy a system and use it for 5-7 years now, whereas 3-4 years was more realistic in the past. Longer useful lifespan = fewer sales per year.

RE: Not really
By RufusM on 10/2/2012 2:09:08 PM , Rating: 3
Here's the typical scenario:

Thin and light = more expensive (ultrabook) or slower (netbook)
Thicker and heavier = less expensive (typical notebook) or faster (high-powered notebook)

You've hit it partially that laptop sales are down, but where the market is really expanding is tablet sales. Low end notebook sales are being trounced by tablets. Tablets offer a great experience for the typical netbook activities like email and web browsing, plus they are the cool thing to have, adding cache to the tablet.

In some cases, I would argue smartphones are also cutting into the low end of the notebook market. I know a number of people that didn't buy a new laptop because they do the same things on their phone all day long and it's a good-enough experience.

RE: Not really
By RufusM on 10/2/2012 2:10:23 PM , Rating: 2
I forgot to add that Intel is not part of the tablet market yet, so they are not seeing revenue from that segments growth.

By Flunk on 10/2/2012 11:27:53 AM , Rating: 2
None of these "Ultrabooks" has even marginally decent graphics performance. The ASUS UX32 is available with a Geforce 620 (why bother level) GPU and that's about the best you can get.

Almost all notebooks currently sold have CPUs that massively eclipse their graphics systems in performance. In order for me to buy a system it has to have at least a half-decent GPU and non of these products stack up. They all perform like $500 laptops at twice the price.

By Flunk on 10/2/2012 11:28:39 AM , Rating: 2
P.S. Optical Drives don't matter to me one bit.

By andrewaggb on 10/2/2012 12:54:27 PM , Rating: 2
me neither

Cost is the big issue
By GatoRat on 10/2/2012 12:48:57 PM , Rating: 2
The only ultrabook that tempted me is the ASUS Zenbook, yet for only a few bucks more I can get something slightly heavier and more capable. For a few bucks more than that, I can get something relatively heavy, but much more powerful--essentially a desktop replacement.

(The low memory on the Zenbook and the inability to expand it is a big problem as are the limited options for SSDs.)

RE: Cost is the big issue
By Beenthere on 10/2/2012 1:54:45 PM , Rating: 3
Cost and mediocre performance for the price is what's stopping most people. You can buy an Ultrathin for the same money that out-performs the joke called Ultrabook. Only an idiot would pay more to get less performance at the same weight.

Just an overpriced netbook
By vision33r on 10/2/2012 9:23:15 PM , Rating: 2
Most of these Ultrabooks have the same resolution as a $399 netbook and you paid $700+ just for a lighter netbook.

Where's the real improvement? Most of these ultrabooks are just filled with cost cutting corners and sprayed on paint to imitate Apple. While trying to charge Apple price but not even close in terms of hardware and support.

That Zenbook is the most overpriced poorly designed thing since the Dell Adamo.

RE: Just an overpriced netbook
By KPOM1 on 10/2/2012 10:29:23 PM , Rating: 3
I agree with a lot of this sentiment. A 1366x768 screen is OK on an 11.6' notebook, but apart from Apple few are making them. Instead, Ultrabook makers are often putting 1366x768 displays on 13.3" or even 14" notebooks.

For $1000 or more, buyers should get higher resolution screens, backlit keyboards, top-notch trackpads, and good build quality. If you charge Apple prices, give consumers something in return.

the future is too expensive
By zephyrprime on 10/2/2012 11:23:24 AM , Rating: 2
Ultra books are the future but they are too expensive so the future is going to take awhile to get here.

RE: the future is too expensive
By andrewaggb on 10/2/2012 12:53:35 PM , Rating: 2
Personally I think most people would be better off with an ipad and a $400 laptop. Combined price is cheaper than an ultrabook and probably more functional and practical for almost all use cases.

I think the current ipad craze is that people already have a computer/laptop and frankly even a 4 year old computer can do most of what consumers want these days so there is little incentive to upgrade.

Intel seems to have totally missed where the market was going. AMD kinda got it with their APU's, but without a competitive tablet/phone part and no high end cpu's they seem to be stuck in the budget laptop/desktop market.

I'd like to think windows 8 has a chance, and that windows 8 phones and tablets have a chance, but even then I'm not sure. I run into people who think the iPhone is too hard, and that's about as dumbed down as you can make a computing device.

Sky falling?
By edge929 on 10/2/2012 4:33:53 PM , Rating: 2
What's this? A slim laptop isn't selling well compared to its slightly bigger brethren with the same components and $400 less?

Sure, I'd love one but I rather have that $400 in my pocket and live with a slightly larger laptop. The day 2 lbs is a deciding factor on which laptop I buy is the day I need to check-in to the retirement home.

Can't see a point
By nikon133 on 10/2/2012 4:40:34 PM , Rating: 2
I wanted to like Ultrabooks - I like travelling light, and I like luxurious feel some of them have.


For the same or less money, I can get, say, 13" VAIO SB laptop. While thicker and heavier, it is still very slim and light, with backlit keyboard, optical drive, faster CPU, switchable graphics(good enough for L4D and MW and likes), decent battery, optional secondary battery and docking station.

Only thing stopping me at this stage is that Sony decided to put IPS screen only on top-of-the-line model which also comes with SSDs and is pricey. If they introduce IPS to midrange for next refresh, Ultrabooks will be forgotten for good, much as I am concerned.

It's an issue of expectations
By KPOM1 on 10/2/2012 9:59:27 PM , Rating: 2
If price were no object, I think that most people would prefer a 2-3lb notebook to a 5lb notebook. it's so much easier to carry, or even take on a short trip with. I think Intel's issue is that they seriously expected this to be 40% of the PC notebook market by the end of 2012. If they were more realistic it wouldn't be seen as such a disappointment.

The MacBook Air is selling well, but it is difficult to extrapolate it to the rest of the PC market. While the majority of Macs sold are portables, and the majority of Mac portables are MacBook Airs, the thing to remember is that Macs are premium devices that sell at premium prices. The cheapest Apple notebook is the base 11.6" MacBook Air at $999. People who plunk down 4 figures after tax aren't the same people who pay $500 or even $800 for a notebook. Ultrabooks will eventually take off, but Intel should have been more realistic with the uptake rate.

They just don't get it...
By Beenthere on 10/2/2012 9:54:56 AM , Rating: 1
Intel is so use to forcing crap products down OEM's throats that they just assumed they'd get away with the Ultra Crap Book. Consumers have overwhelmingly voted "NO" to the Crap Book. Later than sooner Intel will get the memo...

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh

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