John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Consumers: Wait, What’s an Ultrabook?

If Intel’s Ultrabook concept is going to reinvigorate PC sales, the company is going to have to do a better job marketing it. Because machines meeting the branded ultrathin laptop spec haven’t yet won over consumers the way the smartphone and tablet have.

In a report today titled “Dude, You’re Not Getting An Ultrabook,” IHS iSuppli drastically cut its forecast for 2012 Ultrabook shipments. Previously, the research firm had expected PC manufacturers to ship 22 million units. Now it expects fewer than half that: 10.3 million.

Why the sudden reduction? IHS says consumer awareness of the Ultrabook is simply far too low. “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,” IHS analyst Craig Stice explained. “This is especially a problem amid all the hype surrounding media tablets and smartphones.”

And then there’s the issue of the Ultrabooks’ generally prohibitively high pricing. According to an August Sterne Agee survey, 75 percent of the Ultrabooks available at Best Buy cost more than $950. And of those, several commanded prices of more than $1,300. Add this to the general lack of consumer awareness of the device and it’s no surprise that mass-market acceptance has so far evaded the Ultrabook.

That said, the devices do have a chance at gaining some more traction following the debut of Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system. But only if PC makers drop those heady prices. Said Stice, “With the economy languishing, Ultrabook sellers may have trouble finding buyers at the current pricing, especially with fierce competition from new mobile computing gadgets such as the iPhone 5, Kindle Fire HD and forthcoming Microsoft Surface.”

Intel has not yet replied to a request for comment.

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