Ultrabooks Are Still Thin, But Becoming Huge
By Doug Olenick On Jun 18 2012 - 4:01am
NEW YORK –
comes to Ultrabooks, thin is
still in, but in every other aspect
these ultraportable laptops
are getting huge.
With the one-year anniversary of the Ultrabook concept
announcement by Intel having just passed, vendors
are starting to differentiate
with larger displays,
new screen aspect ratios,
capacity and new target
These changes came to light during the spring rollout
of all the back-to-school mobile products offered up by
Acer, Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba and others.
The initial Ultrabook offerings from Acer, Toshiba,
Asus and others centered on extremely thin and light
models that still delivered high-end desktop performance
and were intended to compete directly against
Apple’s MacBook Air models. Most importantly, these
changes have been made while adhering to Intel’s
Ultrabook guidelines of a 7-second resume from hibernation,
five hours of battery life, sub-21mm height,
a Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge processor (as of June
2012) and USB 3.0 ports.
Karen Regis, Intel’s consumer client marketing director,
said the company always understood that the
Ultrabook concept would be a journey.
The trip did get off to a fast start.
Regis said the most surprising aspect to the Ultrabook
launch was how fast manufacturers adopted the
“Many compared the Ultrabook launch to Centrino,
but the OEMs jumped on board even faster with Ultrabook,”
Expressing an even greater interest in the format were
the component manufacturers, she said. More than
1,100 different companies signed on to the concept
from the time it was introduced at the 2011 Computex.
“They all saw the opportunity Ultrabook represented, and that was a very pleasant surprise,”
Regis said Intel was even more
pleased with Ultrabook adoption by the
component manufacturers, with more
than 1,100 different companies jumping
While these initial Ultrabook offerings
all had a similar familial appearance,
manufacturers are now looking to differentiate
their products. Regis expressed
her admiration for the vendors’ efforts
here, saying its impressive they can produce
such varying designs
while following the
Eric Ackerson, Acer’s
senior product marketing
and brand manager,
said he is not surprised with these new
“We always expected larger screen
sizes for the Ultrabook,” he said.
Young Bae, Toshiba’s product marketing
manager, digital products division,
described Ultrabooks as not being any
different from other categories.
“There will never be a one-size-fits-all
model for all people,” he said, adding
that is why Toshiba produces slim and
light (non-Ultrabook) two-spindle models
for consumers who still desire an
Tailoring Ultrabooks to consumer
desires is only part of Intel’s plan to increase
their popularity. The company has
backed their OEM’s efforts with a $300
million marketing campaign that kicked
off this spring. The program’s headliner
is musical artist Will.i.am, who is touring
the world and using an Ultrabook to create
new songs as he travels.
All of this backing has, and will continue
to, pay dividends for Intel. According
to The NPD Group, Sales of Ultrabooks
accounted for 9.8 percent of retail sales
of Windows notebooks more than $700
from January through April 2012.
Steve Baker, NPD’s industry
analysis VP, said
Intel’s efforts will continue
to pay dividends going
forward in 2012.
“To date in 2012, Ultrabooks
have been a very
small percentage of Windows notebook,
but it is equally clear that with the launch
of second-generation products ahead of
back-to-school, and the match between
Windows 8 and the Ultrabook design
ethos, that Ultrabooks will play an important
part in the over-$500 Windows
notebook market for the rest of the year,”
He added that Intel has garnered
significant retailer and OEM support to
push a product whose average price is
likely to be almost 50 percent higher than
the overall Windows notebook market.
“Given the typical reluctance of the Windows
market to support and [sell] higherpriced
solutions such as this we expect
to see the entire market continue to
rally around the concept in an effort
to develop a robust market for
products priced over $700.
In the initial stages of this
effort, despite the rushed
nature of the first generation
of products, our
data indicates this effort
is gaining momentum,”
Intel is intent on maintaining the
higher average selling price points, although
several vendors do see prices
dropping over time
“We can see Ultrabook technology
being pushed down into products lower
in the price spectrum,” Ackerson said.
The upcoming release of Microsoft’s
Windows 8 operating system is the next
item expected to deliver a boost to Ultrabooks.
Windows 8 was created with tablet
PCs in mind and since the Ultrabook
spec had the laptops emulating tablets
with their sleek appearance and quick
start times, there will be many features of
Windows 8 that will benefit Ultrabooks.
Regis expects to see more touchscreen-
enabled Ultrabooks to be introduced.
Touch was included in the original
Ultrabook spec issued by Intel, but it
was not implemented on the first wave
of Ultrabooks. However, with Windows
8 being develop with touch in mind, the
two features should work well together in
the Ultrabook format, she said.