Finally someone gets it
The Ultrabook price points are too high for these to become mainstream. Not in this economy at least.
Also, memo to Acer, but raising your prices does not make you Apple. Got it?
Ultrabooks are still too darn pricey for punters, with the new skinny laptops' average selling price during Q4 2011 63 per cent higher than that of regular notebooks. Worse, said UK-based market watcher Context, which released the figures today, Ultrabooks are, on average, more than three times the price of a netbook. Context …
As I see it, the benchmark for these devices is the MacBook Air. IT was arguably successful the first device to carry that moniker.
Along come the UltraBook makers and see the $$$$, ££££ €€€€ signs and price their offerings in the same price bracket as the Air.
UK Punters seemingly don't want a 'slightly larger than a netbook netbook' whoose only other USP is its profile. Now there is a surprice.
I see the same with the better Android Tablets. They are priced very close to the iPad. Even the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is not selling in the same volumes as the iPad.
I've seen many comments (about UltraBooks and Android Tablets) that go something like
"If they reduce the price by £100 then I'll buy one."
One of these days, perhaps the likes of Asus, Acer etc will get the message.
They can't charge the same as Apple simply because they are NOT APPLE.
While the ultrabook idea is easy to sell to manufacturers (make these and the consumers will happily pay a premium for them), the market segment that buys these premium products has already been targeted for many years with a varying degree of success BUT IS NOT LIKELY TO GROW AS IT IS ALREADY SATURATED!
If you wish to sell products and avoid losing the home computer market to ARM, create products that appeal to the market segments that are under attack from smart phones and tablets. i.e. simple, low cost Internet PC's/laptops.
You won't make the same profit margins as you will on your ultrabooks, but you will retain your processor market share and be able to compete with ARM instead of becoming another processor manufacturer on the brink of extinction that just serves the server market.
When Windows 8/Android are usable on ARM-based systems in businesses no one will remember you in 50 years time...
Well clearly they don't cost that much, since Apple charges a grand for a MB Air and makes 44% net margin across its business, I'm pretty sure there must some decent profit in anything costing over £600 from the ultrabook vendors (why else would they be pushing it so hard!)
This would also concur with the standard Apple tax theory of around 50% premium.
Of course ultrabooks are more expensive, even just because of the SSD (which most laptops don't use, certainly budget models don't). The SSD adds 50-100 to the price tag - shrinking the gap a little.
Having used two machines with an SSD, I'm convinced that the only reason that anyone would choose a spinning disk over an SSD is if they either truly can't afford it (even by cutting other specs of the system) or because they've never seen the difference in performance. For the price, it improves performance more than anything else - an ultrabook with an SSD will feel faster than a much higher-spec laptop with an HDD in most consumer use cases (because hardly anything other than games are CPU limited, and everything now comes with 4GB of ram).
I also see a lot of people here comparing ultrabooks to netbooks. Why?
Ultrabooks perform well enough that you can actually use them for more than word processing and web-browsing. They're full 13-inch laptops, with full keyboards, 4gb of ram, and an at least half-decent processor. They're a real computer - more of a real computer than an entry level laptop, and far more than any netbook.
I think the biggest problem is a complete lack of marketing. Nobody has told consumers how much faster an ultrabook feels (due to the SSD) than a non-ssd laptop, nobody has told them that they're real computers, hell - nobody's even told them that they exist! They're just mixed in with all the other laptops in the store. FFS, western digital has a little demo display for their NAS product, with a display (broken, of course) on it - and the ultrabooks just have a sign saying "ultrabooks" above them.
The price difference doesn't help, but if these were properly marketed, they would be grabbing a much larger portion of the people who can hit the price point (I dare say, a majority even).
Don't take it from me:
"Ultrabooks were the fashionable product to launch at CES this year. But the new Ultrabooks, meant to be PC competitors to the MacBook Air, seemed suspiciously fat. And heavy. And lacking in solid-state drives."
SSDs are great, don't get me wrong... I completely agree. But Ultrabooks /= SSDs any more than Laptops /= SSDs.
I thought it was just me being unimpressed by so-called 'Ultrabooks', which I regarded as Macbook Air rip-offs. I watched bemused as Netbooks, a neat idea died out. Tablets seem to get the blame exclusively but a far as I could see the Netbooks became bigger, faster and more expensive until they not that different to a regular laptop.
The pricing of netbooks has been all over the map, manufacturers should have a bloody clue about where the sweet spot and customers are by now.
I've picked up 11" 1388x768 screen Acer models for $165 on sale/clearance, they are regularly $329, but clearly not moving at that, hence the 3-4 week dumping cycle. The AMD models run 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium, not the 32-bit Starter crap on the Intel models.
I can pick up a quad cored 17" laptop with a 1600x900 for $400-500 without effort. A 7" tablet for $200-$250 (Fire, Nook Color/Tablet), and 10" for $300 (Acer 500)
I'm not going to spend $700-$900 on an UltraBook for my technology grab-n-go bag, or family members who want to surf, shop or do email. Or for that matter something with a ~18 month replacement cycle.
If i wanted to spend that on dropable/discardable tech I'd be an Apple customer. And I'd want 1600x900 resolution.
For UltraBooks to fly off the shelves they are going to need to be below $400, and preferably below $300.
Rather than an ultra-portable, last year I bought a small low cost (less than $400) low power laptop with a 11.6 inch screen. This has a low performance CPU running Linux, but is adequate for web browsing, email and document editing (think of it as a netbook with a bigger screen and keyboard). This gives the unit the footprint of an A4 pad of paper, so it is easy to fit in a briefcase. It is twice as thick as an ultra-book, but that makes it easier to hold. Recently I dropped the unit on a stone floor and the hard disk failed. I undid one screw on the back, slid out the hard disk, slid in a SSD and it works better than ever. The batter life is limtied (3 hours) and it does have a fan on the CPU which whirs, but for $400, I am not complaining.
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