Ultrabooks Reportedly Missing Sales Targets


Intel’s ultrabook concept is not selling quite as well as first thought, according to media reports

Intel’s ‘ultrabook’ concept may not be selling quite as well as expected, after reports suggested that two leading ultrabook makers may have missed their sales targets.

Intel has been actively pushing its ultrabook concept, and has been working with suppliers and manufacturers in an effort to drive down the price of ultrabooks, so as to reach the important sub-$1,000 mark.

But according to the Taiwanese publication DigiTimes, it seems that buyers of the ultra-thin devices are not biting, with high prices to blame.

Lowered Estimates

DigiTimes quoted its own channel sources, as saying that both Acer and Asustek, which had expected to sell between 200,000 and 300,000 ultrabooks, have now lowered their sales estimates to about 100,000 units each.

The Taiwanese publication cited the fact that the 11.6 inch and 13.6 inch ultrabooks sold by Asustek in Taiwan cost $1,205 (£756) and $1,675 (£1,050), and the sub $1,000 (£627) model is not available for sale in Taiwan.

It reported that its sources said that such a price strategy ‘falls short of consumer expectations.’

Price has long been a key concern for Intel with its ultrabook concept. So much so that Intel executives have said that ultrabooks must cost less than $1,000, yet some in the industry have questioned how easily that can be done.

This is not the first time that question marks have been raised about sales of these devices.

In September, for example, DigiTimes reported that Asus, Acer and Lenovo were limiting the production run of ultrabooks because of a lack in confidence that laptop sales would recover in the fourth quarter, coupled with concern at Apple’s MacBook Air domination.

It cited “sources from notebook makers” as saying Acer, Asus, Lenovo and Toshiba would essentially spend the Autumn gauging interest in the ultrabook market segment by shipping fewer than 50,000 units.

On the surface it seems that manufacturers are being caught in a perfect storm, with Intel on the one hand encouraging them to ship these devices but at its crucial sub $1,000 level, yet at the same time refusing to cut CPU prices to help OEMs improve profitability.

To be fair, however, Intel’s investment arm has forked out $300 million to encourage ultrabook hardware and software partners to develop the ultrabook form factor. And Intel has also unveiled a reference architecture for the ultrabook that focuses on keeping costs down.

Tablet Rival?

Intel officials first introduced the idea of ultrabooks at the Computex 2011 show in May. The concept was of a thin (it has to be less than 0.8 inch thick to qualify) and light laptop that offers the benefits of traditional systems, but with many of the features found in tablets. This includes long battery life, instant-on capabilities and constant Internet connection.

Intel has essentially geared the ultrabook to combat the increasingly popular tablets as well as Apple’s ultra thin and light MacBook Air range – the cheapest of which costs $999. Intel officials also see ultrabooks as a way of boosting sales in the slumping PC market.

Yet cost remains a key factor, a point admitted by Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini during an 18 October call with analysts and journalists to report the company’s quarterly financial earnings.

Otellini acknowledged the price issue during the call, and said the key will be suppliers and manufacturers being able to reduce the costs of their products.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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