When Intel introduced the Ultrabook brand and accompanying rules and guidelines, many were skeptical and talked about it being a marketing “gimmick”. Data shows that they could not have been more wrong. First of all, although relatively modest in terms of overall volume, the Ultrabook products are really important because they generate higher profits and that’s what keeps PC makers going.
NPD, a research company, says that Ultrabooks now represent 11% of all $700+ Windows laptops. The $700+ category has grown by a modest 3%, and the $900+ category has grown by 39% year-over-year. This is no small feat, nor it is small (dollar) numbers. Some interesting lessons can be learned from this:
1/ “unit volume” of sales isn’t the only game in town. It’s great to ship a ton of products, but if they don’t generate any profits, volume just keep OEMs afloat – at best.
2/ users are ready to pay for a better experience. Many of us pay $80 /month for a smartphone with a data plan because it’s compelling. Surely, paying $200 more for a multi-year better laptop experience doesn’t seem to be much of a stretch.
3/ Someone needs to draw the line: by setting strict rules on what can and cannot be called “Ultrabook”, Intel has forced PC makers to take the steps to improve the user experience. Fast boot, better battery life and decent computing power form the foundation of a good mobile computing experience.
While not everyone will buy those higher-cost PCs, it’s fair to say that their success will contribute to the bottom-line of those who have the best designs, which will fuel further investment in making the user experience better for all PCs. Hopefully PC OEMs executives are convinced that the experience is what generates the dollars, and that “cheaping out” on critical parts like the display or keyboard is bad for everyone.
Have you tried using an Ultrabook? What is it that you care the most about a new mobile computer? Overall experience, storage, compute power, graphics power, size, weight… all of those? Let us know in the comments.