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Ultrabooks To Take Starring Role For Back-To-School Sales

4/09/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK – The 2012
back-to-school selling
season will feature two
of the hottest computer
products — tablets and Ultrabooks
— vendors said.

Desktop and laptop
computers have long
been mainstay backto-
school items, along
with all their peripherals
and accessories, but
this year Ultrabooks will
have their first impact on
sales, despite the fact
that the category is not
even a year old.

While laptops will
dominate sales, tablets
will find a few niche
places to grab some
back-to-school dollars,
mainly as secondary devices
for college students.

Sam Morris, Lenovo’s education solutions manager,
called the Ultrabook a very attractive form factor for
college students, saying the design will have an impact
on sales.

“The general specifications of the Ultrabook is desirable
for a college student. They live out of their
backpack, so the all-day battery and light weight is
critical,” he said.

Eric Ackerson, Acer’s senior product marketing and
brand manager, expects Ultrabooks to be a big sales
hit this year. He credited this in part to Intel’s major
marketing program, which will start in May.

“Back-to-school is the biggest selling cycle for laptops,
and Ultrabooks will play a big role. This is a fun
category, and there is lots of excitement surrounding
it,” Ackerson said.

Lower price points for Ultrabooks could also help
boost back-to-school sales. Ackerson expects prices
to dip somewhat this summer as more models ship.

The upcoming release of Microsoft’s Windows 8
operating system will also boost sales even though it
is not expected to become available until late summer
or early fall. The fact that Windows 8 is designed for
touchscreen devices will make it a hit with Ultrabooks
equipped these displays.

However, the Ultrabook’s higher average selling price
can be a benefit to retailers. Intel’s Karen Regis, director
consumer client marketing, consumer PC group,
said Intel has done studies indicating retailers leave
a lot of money on the table when it comes to backto-
school sales. Essentially, consumers are willing to
spend more if they feel the product is worthwhile.

“Ultrabooks are thin, light and responsive, which is
great for students,” she said.

Tablets will play a different role during the back-toschool
period. Ackerson noted that unlike laptops,
tablet product introductions are not quite in sync with
the back-to-school period, so new models will not be
brought out specifically to school.

On the other hand, Ackerson said tablets will have
a place this year, but the number of sales for back-toschool
purposes will be far below notebooks.

“I can see retailers using [tablets] to pull people into
stores,” he added.

Morris said tablets are taking on the role as a secondary
device for college students. The general scenario has the student’s more powerful laptop sitting
in their dorm room while the tablet is brought around
for use as an e-reader and ultra-portable input device.

Adding to the tablet’s usefulness is the growing
availability of electronic text books and the fact that
so much educational material is disseminated online,
so a tablet gives students ready access to this data,
Morris said.