Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Hewlett-Packard Dons Its Ultrabook Suit

It’s been about three weeks since Hewlett-Packard announced its decision to keep its PC division, formally known as the Personal Systems Group, or PSG. Today marked the first serious batch of new PC introductions from HP since that decision.

The one getting all the attention is an offering in the Ultrabook category that’s priced at $900. It’s called the HP Folio13, and aside from its price, its headline feature is that it delivers a full nine hours of battery life.

The Ultrabook is a concept primarily being pushed by Intel, so much so that Intel even owns the trademark rights to the name. Inside the Folio13 are the latest Intel Core processors. It represents the hopes of a PC industry that has seen anemic sales with little sign of a bounceback, though that depends on whom you ask.

Major challenges have been the continued popularity among consumers of Apple’s iPad, and to a lesser extent other tablets, and the impressive sales of Apple’s MacBook Air, which now accounts for nearly a third of Apple’s notebook sales. It may not be an Ultrabook technically, but conceptually the similarities are substantial: Thin, light, sporting solid-state drives and speedy boot-up times.

And while the MacBook Air is a big winner for Apple, there’s as yet little evidence that there’s much demand for a similar product running Windows. Last month, it emerged that Acer and Asus expect to sell only 100,000 each by the of 2011, which would amount to between one third and one half of what they originally hoped.

Yes, it’s early days for Ultrabooks — machines that support Intel’s full design vision won’t be on the market for another several months. And the industry is just now starting to bang the drum seriously for the Ultrabook. Asus Chairman Jonney Shih talked about the category in an interview with Walt Mossberg at AsiaD last month.

In its press releases, HP expressed the hopes of an entire industry when it quoted IDC analyst Crawford Del Prete saying he expects PC makers — including HP — to sell 95 million Ultrabooks by 2015. At their current levels, there’s nowhere to go but up.

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