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back to article Acer bigwig sees gloomy future for Ultrabooks in Europe

Acer has downgraded sales forecasts for Ultrabooks as the relatively hefty price tag and smaller screen size continues to limit adoption in Europe. The PC maker had expected the super skinny platform to comprise between 25 and 35 per cent of total notebook sales globally by the end of this year. "Overall the Ultrabook segment …

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Finally, they get it

tiny screens and crap max resolutions just don't cut it anymore.

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Re: Finally, they get it

The screens are crap whatever you buy at this size - I think it's more the "pay twice as much to get a thinner shinier machine" that puts sends most people in the direction of the standard notebook.

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Re: Finally, they get it

The screen on my 13" Lenovo X1 as well as on the 13" MacBook Air are very nice and definitely on a par with 15" laptops with the advantage compared to a netbook that they have full size keyboards so I don't think this is the whole story.

The slim and light 13" form factor definitely has a market between the 15" laptop and 11" netbook but is certainly not for everyone: the great portability combined with high end specs (and high price) is only justifiable to a small minority of users but those who need that combination and are happy to pay the price now have great products to choose from. So planning 30% penetration in the first year for a product that is targetting a fairly narrow market was very optimistic at best, especially when the first models are rather expensive and being sold during a less than perfect economic climate.

I, for one, am very happy to have a laptop that is light and small enough that I can take it everywhere I need to while being able to run Eclipse and a couple of VirtualBox VMs concurrently or do photo editing on it but I also realise that the market segment I represent is a small minority and certainly not 30% of the laptop market.

My advice to those companies would be: release products with the same form factor but more average specs so that you can extend your market to potential users who like the concept but can't justify spending a grand on a laptop.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Finally, they get it

A 13.3" screen isn't tiny, and doesn't have to be crap.

A decent quality laptop with a smaller screen to make it more portable is an entirely reasonable class of product, and should do well in the market. A netbook with a low-res 10" screen is not, an ultrabook costing £1000+ is not (however sleek and shiny they make the case).

Paris because she's no rocket scientist, either.

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FAIL

Re: Finally, they get it

Yep. Charging nearly 1000 dollars/euros for something with no optical drive and half the correct number of pixels per inch was never going to work.

I've been looking for something to replace my Dell mini-10 more or less since the day I got it (600 vertical pixels. Huge buying mistake). Nothing has even half excited me since, except the iPud3. If it had a keyboard...

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Anonymous Coward

Yep we got it

Pay more for less, call it Ultra, call it Extreme, call it whatever you want , but the public have become more canny and no matter how you dress up the product or how you advertise it we now read the small print.

The Ultra is just a souped up notebook, with the same feature set.

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thus proving

that popularity of Macbook Airs is not just about the hardware

Look like Windows is an impediment in that market segment

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Re: thus proving

Maybe the only thing being proved is that if you're the kind of person who is prepared to spunk a thousand quid or so on a teeny little computer which is worth nothing near that, you're possibly also the kind of person who buys Macs...

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Trollface

Maybe the only thing being proved is ...

... the green-eyed discourteous are aways with us.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: thus proving

You're wrong people do want Ultrabooks, but they are just waiting for Windows 8 and the awesome features that it will bring. Nobody wants the dated OS X interface any more that hasn't changed in ten years. Once Windows 8 is released they will sell Ultrabooks like hot cakes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: thus proving

The user experience of a Windows machine is pretty dire though. You walk into a rather crummy store like PC World or Comet. Deal with some person who doesn't know shit about the product and then try to get sold insurance or something else you don't want.

Once you get the thing home you have all the activation to do, wonder how on earth to remove all the crapware or stickers that remove the paint from the casing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: thus proving

Buy a computer from a shop? That's so 1996.

I bought my first PC from the soon-to-be-bankrupt Escom, was on the Internet the next day and never bought a computer from a shop again.

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Mushroom

Re: thus proving

@Anon - 18:24

Mac OS X dated? Cor'! Take those Windows shades off, because you'll keep going blind to the wider picture if you keep bumming Windows in general. It's a desktop OS that works, pretty stable and makes light work of anything you chuck at it. Windows 8 will be a battery hogger with a confused outlook to its market. Windows 8 success will be based on Microsoft's marketing to patch up the awful clunky dual-interface it presents to the consumer. Joe public will be asking...

"Why won't my legacy programs work on Metro? And why won't Metro work on the normal desktop?" - There's your nuclear explosion there.

Anyway, on the point of ultrabooks taking a downturn in the Euro; I'd pretty much say that's a definately unless the big PC players can make some quality products not made out of the parts bin of Chinese chuck-out factories.

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it's the 'ultra' that's the problem for me

For ages I had a lovely little 11.6" Acer netbook-plus thingy, which I picked up for something in the region of £300. It wasn't massively powerful, or stupidly high resolution but seeing as the vast majority of what it got used for was light web browsing and heavy SSH - it was perfect for me. That died over the weekend and I was forced to buy a hefty great 15.6" machine because nobody makes super-netbooks which don't cost too many hundreds of pounds.

I don't care about slim, or power, or ssds, or resolution or any of the other apparently 'ultra' features - but I'd love a small(er) screened machine which is simply one or two steps up from an Atom.

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Big Brother

Re: it's the 'ultra' that's the problem for me

This may not work for most people, but I use a fondlePad for "light web browsing and (heavy) SSH".

iSSH works for me...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: it's the 'ultra' that's the problem for me

What you want is a 305U or 350U from Samsung then.

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Re: it's the 'ultra' that's the problem for me

Lenovo ThinkPad X130e is not bad as well. Step up form a netbook that can actually run Windows 7, but not the stupid executive toy "ultra" price tag.

But that's not what they want to push. To bad for them if no one what's what they are pushing.

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Genius

Super-expensive laptops, clearly the way to lift notebook sales out of the doldrums during a GLOBAL RECESSION.

Apple sell a fair few macbook airs, but you can't extrapolate from that to the conclusion that an intel-branded equivalent is going to magically generate a whole new market segment to save the likes of Acer etc. You have to wonder about their market analysts at times, are they living in some kind of dreamworld?

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Anonymous Coward

There's a market for thin and lights with small screens...

as Apple have demonstrated (please spare me the "but Apple owners are morons who like spending too much, herp derp" rhetoric), and Windows isn't the offputting factor either; Windows 7 is on par with OSX. The problem is current Ultrabooks are still underwhelming, so anyone in the market for one will either just buy an Air or hold off until we finally see something decent.

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Re: There's a market for thin and lights with small screens...

+1 for underwhelming. If you want to cut in on someone's market you need to do better and likely for less. I haven't seen anything that fits that bill yet.

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Linux

Acer is right

We don't want Ultrabooks.

Unless they are 1/4 or maybe 1/5th cost.

They are priced for Rich Singletons that want to pose in expensive coffee shops.

You don't need it at home or office and would you use something so expensive on the beach, crowded bus or train?

It can't decide if it's a small overpriced laptop or big overpriced tablet with a keyboard that won't detach.

They need 14 hrs+ battery life, keyboard that can detach or fold under or in it, 1900 x 1200 resolution touch screen, ARM cpu and to cost under €500, ideally under €250.

Apple sell so few actual computers compared to phones and ipads that they ditched computer from their name. The Macbook Air isn't a product anyone not called Apple can sell.

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Anonymous Coward

Intel really don't have a bloody clue do they? outside of boring chipsets that is.

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TS

These are machines the executives want...

The execs want ultrabooks so they can walk into meetings with clients and competitors, looking stylish and unencumbered. But obviously, the Acer exec can't walk into a meeting holding a Mac Air (unless it's to say "we need to build something like this"). So all the companies have ultrabooks and try to sell them to the average consumers. Who would rather do other things with their money, not having exec level salaries.

Once, 10 years ago or so, I had an ultra-portable Toshiba Portege (12" IIRC). Slow, underpowered, battery that could barely survive a short train ride... but it was really slick and light and super portable. Way overpriced, but at that time I was willing to give it a shot. Since then, I've had several laptops, but have stuck to 14" and 15.6" machines which are either 1/3rd the price, or have 3x the power, battery, storage, and features than the ultrabooks. I'm happy getting the same for less, or getting more for the same... but I'm over the need to spend more just to look stylish and unencumbered.

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problem is not the screen size

The problem is that none of the ultrabooks have a complete set of specs that justify the pricetag. The Asus is the only one with a decent resolution screen but it's let down by a poor touchpad and a screen with low contrast and limited viewing angles. All the rest have 768 pixels vertically which, on a laptop costing around £1000 is a joke.

The new Sony vaio Z is close to what ultrabooks should be (I know it's not technically an ultrabook) I almost bought one before I discovered that the if you want 8GB of RAM (should be standard in a machine of this cost) you have to get the 256GB SSD which costs an extra £400 over the 128GB model this at a time when you can buy a 256GB Samsung 830 for £150. The RAM is soldered onto the board so upgrading yourself isn't an option.

There is a market for these machines but the people that are prepared to pay £1000 for a laptop want one that is worth £1000 rather than a £500 laptop in a thin case.

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Re: problem is not the screen size

They are over estimating the gullibility of the consumer.

They also miss the fact that most people don't use a machine on the move, 'ultrabooks' are only beneficial for those who use them on the move or those wanting to show off.

This is not most people's primary use case, being able to do 95% of what they do on a £300 snotter is their primary use case.

EPIC FAIL by the manufacturers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: problem is not the screen size

Yes annodomini2, but that doesn't really matter because the market is still so huge that even though the majority of people don't need ultraportables and are content to use £300 laptops, there are still a sizeable number of users to whom portability is an important consideration. The reason "Ultrabooks" are struggling to have an impact so far isn't because there's no demand for that type of device, but because it's been poorly executed.

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FAIL

Re: problem is not the screen size

The majority of users wanting ultra-portable notebooks have had this option for many-many years in the business class sector.

This is nothing new.

Corporates (the bulk of this market) won't be buying ultrabooks as they will be tied into their large corporate agreement with x manufacturer.

Intel just thinks they can halve the thickness and charge twice as much, for what is a budget laptop, with a smaller screen and some would argue a slightly prettier case. Possibly with an SSD.

Those wanting a portable net machine, buy tablets, vis a vie iPads.

The thing is Acer were thinking they could get 30% of their sales from Ultrabooks, yes the market is large and I never said there wouldn't be sales, but the consumer is not as stupid as many of these companies think.

Likewise that doesn't mean to say some consumers aren't stupid!

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Re: problem is not the screen size

"but the consumer is not as stupid as many of these companies think."

Or just as likely, there are plenty of stupid consumers but the recession means they have no money to be stupid with.

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Unhappy

When is the 21st century going to start?

This week Stephen Hawking gets a brain tap. I had expected we'd all have them a decade ago!

Why are we still working with a typewriter? Dude, where is my talking computer?

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Re: When is the 21st century going to start?

DragonDictate NaturallySpeaking is actually quite good, and I'm pretty sure text to speech is a done deal.

Just saying.

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Happy

>Just saying.

grone.

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Anonymous Coward

Trying to sell Windows PCs at Apple Mac prices ?

Are they nuts ? You pay a hefty price to differentiate yourself from the Windows crowd with a Mac carefully designed up to the smallest detail. Paying the same for a regular run off the mill design PC just because Intel and computer OEMs need to increase their revenue would definitely not bring you the same prestige.

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Coat

Surface?

Maybe this is the gap in the market the MS Surface Pro is aimed at?

I just hope that releasing the RT version first won't ruin the Pro's chances.

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You can make really good 11..13" laptop ARM computers

and have been able to for a long while - if you dont mind your licensing terms changed.

Its trying to put windows on these thinks that prices them out of the market. My recent laptop purchase had a 30% MS surcharge on it.

I make my own PC's but its not possible for laptops. I'm just hoping one day soon a manufacturer will realise that a 14hr 11" twin core ARM machine (see what the Raspberry Pi can do on 1/3rd that) android for £200 would fly off the shelves.

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Want one, just not yet

I have a 4 year old laptop that cost £440, which still works absolutely perfectly (Windows 7). I deliberately chose one with a 12" screen (Samsung Q210), as I've always preferred small laptops. I'd love to replace it with an Ultrabook, however I simply don't need to yet. When I do, it will be at the lower end of the price spectrum, because with 'adequate' laptops now starting at £300, to spend more than double that, simply doesn't make sense to me, or to many people.

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FAIL

Its hardly surprising Ultrabooks aren't selling, as no-one in the marketing departments seems to have consulted anyone other than overpaid execs and themselves.

Thinner has caused the price to rise, forced horrible chicklet keyboards on everyone, lost valuable and needed connectors. For no apparant reason, they seem to have gone for a low-rez screen that my 8 year old laptop betters. And a widescreen format uselful only for watching movies - when did you last see someone on the train/bus/Starbucks watching a movie on their laptop???

What the real user wants is lighter weight (getting under 2kg makes a big difference in lugging around); thinness is pointless as its always shoved in the lappy bag anyway(and PLEAE offer a proper keyboard option!). Long battery life, true, 8hours (a days use) is a good target. Most users dont especially need gobs of processing power, so offer a slow down/lower power mode, everyones happy. Put a proper resolution screen on the beast so its actually of some use for real work. Stop with ripping people off for ssd drives. Now you may make the sales targets....however the marketing droids and their managers seem much happier to follow each other over the cliff like good little corporate lemmings

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Anonymous Coward

I'm not a fanboi

but if I had to choose a machine with Apple prices and Apple specs, it would probably be an Apple. There's your problem, Acer.

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Mushroom

Smaller should not equal more expensive..

Put the price on a par with laptops and they'll see upward movement. Being 'light' should not mean twice the price.

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