IHS slashes ultrabook forecast for 2012, 2013

Ultrabooks are supposed to help breathe new life into the PC market, but they may be falling short, judging by the latest figures from IHS. The market research firm has cut its forecast for 2012 ultrabook shipments from 22 million units down to just 10.3 million. IHS also expects fewer ultrabooks to ship next year—only 44 million, down from the previously anticipated 61 million.

IHS analyst Craig Stice sums up the problem as follows:

There once was a time when everyone knew the ‘Dude you’re getting a Dell’ slogan. Nowadays no one can remember a tag line for a new PC product, including for any single ultrabook. . . . 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. This is especially a problem amid all the hype surrounding media tablets and smartphones. When combined with other factors, including prohibitively high pricing, this means that ultrabook sales will not meet expectations in 2012.

Now, high prices and low enthusiasm aren’t the only reasons IHS has revised its forecast. The research firm points out that, because of Intel’s "increasingly stringent" definition of what constitues an ultrabook, vendors have reclassified some of their ultrabooks as "ultrathins." The firm doesn’t say how big an impact that little semantics play has had.

Still, ultrabooks are reportedly failing to woo consumers. For more folks to be drawn to ultrabooks instead of the latest gizmos from Apple and its copycats, IHS reckons prices need to slip from their current level—roughly $1000—down into the $600-700 range. The research firm believes adding new features like touch screens and motion sensors could also boost demand.

I think offering high-quality systems at lower prices will probably help more than piling on features. The idea of a notebook with a touch screen doesn’t particularly appeal to me, but I’d love to be able to get an ersatz MacBook Air for $600 or so. Perhaps Windows 8 will change my mind, though. The Metro interface has clearly been designed with touch in mind, and I might find myself swayed by some slick convertible ultrabooks like the Asus Taichi.

Comments closed
    • oldog
    • 7 years ago

    I bought a Sammy 7 for the wife. She is pretty meh regarding the device. I on the other hand love, love, love it.

    Her complaints: the keyboard and track pad. Oh yes, and don’t forget about the keyboard.

    The screen is brighter and looks better than my Dell U2410. It is fast. It is seriously small and light. In fact it rattles around in an Air sleeve (the only one readily available to protect the thing). It is great for globe-trotting and has great battery life. The keyboard and track pad are OK not great.

    My two cents; I think it’s worth every penny of its cost as an offset on neck massages carrying the thing around the world.

    • mutarasector
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<] IHS reckons prices need to slip from their current level—roughly $1000—down into the $600-700 range. The research firm believes adding new features like touch screens and motion sensors could also boost demand.[/quote<] ....and at $1000+ they should have a Thunderbolt port. I quite agree on the Taichi, Cyril. The Asus Taichi has me interested as well. I don't go for pre-ordering *any* new hardware, but if Asus would have put a Thunderbolt port on it, I would.

    • willmore
    • 7 years ago

    Let me get this straight. In a global recession, Intel though a premium product would sell well?

      • Farting Bob
      • 7 years ago

      To be fair, Apple isnt doing too badly in this global recession, so selling premium products isnt impossible, you just have to somehow create the demand and show why your more expensive product is the better option over cheaper alternatives.

        • willmore
        • 7 years ago

        It helps if the more expenisve option is better.

    • NeelyCam
    • 7 years ago

    Intel overestimated how much the Ivy Bridge generation Ultrabooks could grow the MBA/Ultrabook market. I like them, but in this generation, they are not compelling enough compared to ‘regular’ laptops, especially at that price.

    Haswell generation will probably change this, though.

    • link626
    • 7 years ago

    been saying since day 1-

    the price is just too damn high

    and still comes with 1366×768

      • Duck
      • 7 years ago

      1366×768 is OK. 1920×1080 would make it practically unusable.

        • adisor19
        • 7 years ago

        Best troll bait ever.

        Adi

          • willmore
          • 7 years ago

          That’s high praise coming from Adi.

          • Duck
          • 7 years ago

          The answer is obvious. Forewarned by me, and then detailed by TR: “scaling fails on high-PPI displays”.

          How is it troll bait?

            • willmore
            • 7 years ago

            Because you didn’t say that?

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]still comes with 1366x768[/quote<] Those are AMD ultrathins (i.e., fake Ultrabooks), to cut cost. There are Ultrabooks that come with actual 1080p, but you have to pay more for them

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    The classic Intel problem. They want you to pay MORE for something and you want it cheaper. You can say this about Ultrabooks or their Atom-based tablets they’re pushing now.

    They want their high profit margins, but they don’t get that if prices are that high, most users are just going to go buy the Apple equivalent. In the case of Ultrabooks, that’s probably not horrible for Intel, though I suspect their margins are a lot lower with Apple than they are with practically any other OEM.

    With tablets, it IS horrible for Intel. Intel needs to just lower prices, accept CPU’s as commodity components that don’t warrant the high prices, and move on from that.

      • Hattig
      • 7 years ago

      Within a couple of years Apple will probably migrate their MacBook Airs from these $230 Intel Ultrabook CPUs (rumoured: $299 for Haswell for Ultrabooks) to internally developed $30 ARM SoCs – and that’s simply because Intel’s CPUs are not competitively priced in these markets, and Apple have the ability to create a very fast, low power ARMv8 SoC.

      The end result is that Apple can raise their margin and drop the price of their Airs, making the Intel-based competition even less competitive than they are already.

        • NeelyCam
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]Within a couple of years Apple will probably migrate their MacBook Airs from these $230 Intel Ultrabook CPUs (rumoured: $299 for Haswell for Ultrabooks) to internally developed $30 ARM SoCs[/quote<] I really doubt RDF is strong enough anymore for people to accept that kind of performance sacrifice.

        • TEAMSWITCHER
        • 7 years ago

        iPod, iPhone, iPad, and next they will reincarnate the iBook?

        I can see the appeal – a small touch screen ultra portable laptop with an ultra-high resolution screen and an all day battery. If you could fold back the keyboard and make it a tablet that would be ideal.

        Lenovo has something like this but it’s expensive. If Apple could do this for significantly less it could be another hit. Microsoft Surface has some huge drawbacks: You can only type resting the device on a flat surface – the design doesn’t work in your lap. Also, the Surface RT screen is nothing special and I wonder how much flash space and RAM will be left after loading Windows. I’ll wait until I read some final reviews but Im not expecting great things.

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    People ask me “I need to get a new laptop, should I get one of these ultrabooks?”

    I ask them how much they value ports, proper graphics, replaceable batteries, storage, and upgradability.

    I’ve yet to find anyone who wants an ultrabook after being told honestly how much of a sacrifice you have to make, just to make it thin.

    One guy said “screw it, I think it looks great, and I wanted a Macbook Air anyway. He ended up donating his Lenovo U300 to the office after a couple of months because he didn’t realise just how much he needed a VGA port and an optical drive. Being the kind soul that I am, I requested approval for an office laptop and got him a 14” vostro 3400 with an i5, an optical drive, a gigabit port, a geforce 310M, VGA, DVI, eSATA and enough hard disk to keep several projects on. Oh, and a spare battery. He was amazed at how much faster it was for something half the price. That’s what happens when you don’t limit yourself to a paltry CULV processor with crippled clockspeeds….

      • adisor19
      • 7 years ago

      *sigh* you are part of the problem why the PC industry is stagnating. Well done.

      Adi

      • phez
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]People ask me "I need to get a new laptop, should I get one of these ultrabooks?" I ask them how much they value ports, proper graphics, replaceable batteries, storage, and upgradability.[/quote<] if those people are asking you for laptop advice, chances are they dont value any of those things you mention, except for maybe storage space.

      • ludi
      • 7 years ago

      As evidenced by what is happening in the mobile device market, people do NOT value “ports, proper graphics, replaceable batteries, storage, and upgradeability”. They’ll just buy a new tablet when the current one gets full, old, and slow. And assuming the price can be brought down on these ultrabooks, they’ll do the same thing with those, too.

      The Aspire S7 in the next TR news post above this one appears to have audio out, HDMI, and two USB ports. Realistically, the only ports I use regularly on my Timeline 1810TZ are the audio out, two USB ports, and VGA. The VGA is mainly because I have an old 20″ monitor at my folks’ house that I use while visiting, and could easily be upgraded to HDMI (particularly if I was buying that monitor this year instead of four years ago at a Black Friday sale); and one of those USB ports could be eliminated if I cared to buy a Bluetooth mouse.

      • Beelzebubba9
      • 7 years ago

      I have the original ultrabook (2010 MacBook Air) and not once in the years of owning it have I thought ‘man, I wish this had a VGA port’.

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]how much he needed a VGA [/quote<] Is this a story from 2005?

        • adisor19
        • 7 years ago

        I think you mean more like 2003.

        Adi

        • Chrispy_
        • 7 years ago

        Believe it or not, most of the boardrooms, convference centres and public venues around the world still use VGA because that is the most common standard.

        Business projectors use VGA, because (guess what) that is the most common standard.

        I run an office that is almost entirely displayport, thanks to a relocation requiring all new hardware within the last three years. By most corporate standards, everything here is bleeding edge. The projectors we have include DVI and HDMI as well as VGA. Despite being used almost daily by consultants and clients in our largest boardroom, do you know how many times the DVI and HDMI cables have been used?

        (Here’s a clue; The cable-ties and plastic end-caps are still on the HDMI cable, and the only DVI port I’ve come across is from Apple users who brought the [i<]wrong[/i<] adapter and were pleased to discover we still had a cable that would fit it.)

          • ludi
          • 7 years ago

          While this is all true, it sounds like you have a chicken-and-egg problem in regards to HDMI use — because the users also have a VGA connection on their laptops, which is still their because so many office projectors still use VGA, which…

          A lot of laptops have included a mini-HDMI port for a few years now. But it’s likely that pretty much none of your visiting customers, even if they have one, know what it is.

            • Chrispy_
            • 7 years ago

            Well, it’s worse than that. HDMI on projectors is typically for connecting things like blu-ray players. If you plug things into the HDMI port, a lot of projectors will report that their capability is 720p instead of the 1366×768 native resolution.

            Yes, you can fiddle with it and override the 720p default but do you have any idea how awful 720p upscale on a 1366×768 DLP chip looks? I’d rather draw the powerpoint on the wall using a crayon…
            😀

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      I’ll +1 you to offset the half dozen or so people who made half sensical or emotional pleas against your arguement.

      VGA ports are still the standard interconnect for any kind of project/display in business today. Sure, I rarely use them at home and laugh when I seem them on TVs for sale, but they do have a place. Until everything has an HDMI connector on it (including stuff built into converence rooms and concert halls) then we’re going to need to have VGA ports on laptops that might need to be used in those venues.

        • Beelzebubba9
        • 7 years ago

        I have a $5 adapter I pack with my Air if I’m giving presentations. That means the other 99% of the time I can take advantage of the laptop’s slim formfactor an portability.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 7 years ago

          As long as the video output can do analog too, that’s great. HDMI doesn’t do analog afaik.

    • Flatland_Spider
    • 7 years ago

    Tablets have fulfilled the promise of the netbook. Lightweight OS connected to servers where documents can be stored, and hardware goes easy on the battery juice which allows it to be in standby mode for hours on end.

    Ultrabooks/ultrathins don’t fix any of the problems with current laptops. They combine the worst aspects of tablets with the worst aspects of laptops. This is no surprise considering this is the same brain trust that lost the plot with netbooks, and they still don’t have a clue between them.

    My point is, use the right tool for the job. If the job calls for a sledgehammer, use a sledgehammer, but if you’re trying to remove a furniture nail from a piece of wood, a 6 oz. clawhammer or a mini pry bar are better tools for that.

      • indeego
      • 7 years ago

      Ultrabooks give you the lower weight of tablets, plus the needed input/output to physical devices when needed. They also have decent Processing compared to tablets.

      Tablets are slow where real-grunt-work is needed. Where I work it’s not uncommon to need to unzip hundreds of highly compressed files and organize them into batches of processing based on function. On a tablet this could easily take 10X as long as on a ultrabook, and the potential for finger-slip to f*ck everything up is actually quite high, causing the bashing of tablet over someone’s head a very real occurrence.

      Well, at least in our Document Processing trials, we realized tablets have a very long way towards actual work functionality for our workflow.

        • mutarasector
        • 7 years ago

        Like Cyril said, the Asus Taichi seems to be pretty slick, and appears to be an optimal ultrathin/tablet hybrid/blend.

    • Hattig
    • 7 years ago

    Fact is that everyone said that ultrabooks would be a fail from the start because of the price and the downsides of the form factor. The target market is already invested in Apple Macbook Airs, and the ultrabooks were not any cheaper or attractive.

    Instead the market has said that it loves tablets (mainly Apple tablets) for media consumption, so why do they want an expensive, low-end – albeit slim – laptop?

    • burntham77
    • 7 years ago

    My wife used a 1300 dollar MacBook Air for a few months. She sold it and got a 650 dollar AMD-based Samsung laptop that was just as thin and performed better in most tasks. Not a dig on Apple specifically, but I have yet to see any of these 1000 dollar or more Ultrabooks do anything to justify the price.

    • Alexko
    • 7 years ago

    I can’t say that I find the prospect of a notebook monitor covered in fingerprints appealing.

    And I don’t see ultrabooks taking off until Intel starts selling <$100 CPUs that can power them. But that would probably defeat the purpose of ultrabooks from Intel’s perspective.

    Until then, Trinity-based ultrathins aren’t a bad option, especially for people who want to do some mobile, light gaming. Otherwise they’re not particularly attractive, but cheap and serviceable.

      • drfish
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]Until then, Trinity-based ultrathins aren't a bad option, especially for people who want to do some mobile, light gaming. Otherwise they're not particularly attractive, but cheap and serviceable.[/quote<] Yes. Give it a [u<]good display[/u<], solid build quality and a ~$500-$600 price tag and I think it would end well.

        • Flatland_Spider
        • 7 years ago

        I’d like to see that too.

        Of course, that’s not going to happen. They’re going to throw together the cheapest piece of junk they can, and shove it out the door.

        This goes for Intel or AMD systems.

        • Alexko
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah, OEMs sure do tend to drop the ball in these respects. :-/

        I’m glad I only need a desktop computer, so I can pick and choose the exact components I want, because getting a good laptop that fits your needs well and doesn’t burn a hole through your wallet can be really difficult.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]The research firm points out that, because of Intel's "increasingly stringent" definition of what constitues an ultrabook, vendors have reclassified some of their ultrabooks as "ultrathins." The firm doesn't say how big an impact that little semantics play has had.[/quote<] It's a double-edged sword for Intel. Make lots of cheap notebooks into "Ultrabooks" and people think that they are just cheap computers. Make the requirements too stringent and the Ultrabooks cost too much. In the end Intel still makes money as long as the systems use their chips regardless of the label that you slap on it, but Intel has shown that it is not the greatest at getting complete systems sold under the "Ultrabook" label.

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    I’m not interested in laptops but out of curiousity i just searched on my favourite e-tailers to get a feel of the price/performance offered by ultrabooks.

    OMG they are so overpriced for what they offer: low res displays, integrated GPU (weak as Intel iGPUs at that) mostly low frequency chips (though i admit i haven’t read the reviews regarding performance), low capacity drives. WTF were they thinking?

    A laptop should be a laptop not an extremely overpriced tablet with a low quality display and a permanently attached keyboard.

    • blastdoor
    • 7 years ago

    I predict that anyone who uses the term “media tablet” will consistently overestimate demand for PCs. While I think that it is accurate to describe an Amazon Kindle as a “media tablet”, I think that term implies a fundamental misunderstanding of what the iPad is.

      • Decelerate
      • 7 years ago

      Imo the iPad is a “consumption/light or occasional productivity” tablet. But then that doesn’t roll off the tongue very well…

        • blastdoor
        • 7 years ago

        one could just call it “tablet”…

          • mutarasector
          • 7 years ago

          I suppose I could go along with this as the term media tablet is somewhat redundant. It’s kind of like calling a PC a ‘media PC’, which of course goes without saying.

          But then one could also call tablets *toys* since they still tend to be largely media consumption devices more so than desktops/notebooks.

            • Voldenuit
            • 7 years ago

            People have been doing real work on slate and tablet PCs long before the iPad came around. The problem is that they have been very niche and expensive, but that may change.

            I’m thinking of nabbing a Thinkpad Tablet 2 for the wife sometime next year. Stylus input (she’s in ID) and the ability to run x86 applications (Revit, Photoshop, Office). RAM is a bit sparse (only 2GB, soldered on) and the CPU is a bit weak (Clover Trail), but at 1.6 lbs, it’s half the weight of the Thinkpad X230T that I was previously considering for her. Maybe by next year there’ll be a Haswell version…

      • Game_boy
      • 7 years ago

      The laptop has become the stationary computer, replacing the desktop as the machine for content creation or extended work time, and the tablet has replaced the laptop as the portable device for checking the internet, listening to music, short videos etc.

      The PC maker’s problem is that they want to sell THREE devices: desktop, laptop, tablet, in addition to phones. They need to get used to the fact people don’t want to spend $2000 a year on hardware.

        • blastdoor
        • 7 years ago

        I think your description is probably accurate for a lot of people, but I personally find it odd to buy a laptop for use as a “stationary” computer. For the same money, you can get a desktop that has one or all of the following: faster CPU/GPU, more storage, a more comfortable keyboard/mouse, a bigger monitor.

        On my next computer upgrade after buying an iPad, I switched from laptop to desktop. I always found the laptop to be a very awkward compromise machine. I’m glad to be rid of it.

          • chµck
          • 7 years ago

          I’m a college student and I’ve been using solely my 17″ DTR since freshman year.
          It’s powerful enough and I can take it with me.
          It uses less energy and puts out less heat.
          It takes up less desk space.

          I think the tipping point between choosing a desktop over a laptop due to horsepower was reached maybe 1-2 years ago.*

          *For most users.

            • blastdoor
            • 7 years ago

            If you need to take it with you, then obviously you need a laptop, end of story.

            But if you want a stationary computer set up with a large screen (17″ was large in 1995, it’s not large now) and a comfortable keyboard/mouse, then if you buy a laptop you need to also buy an external monitor and KB/mouse. At that point, you have to ask yourself why you bought the laptop, when you could have bought a desktop for less money or better specs.

            If you want less heat and space, then buy a good AIO desktop. That’s less space than a laptop IF you are going to also get an external monitor with the laptop.

            More generally — I’m always bemused by the argument that you “can’t do real work on a tablet.” I don’t disagree, but doing “real work” on a laptop isn’t exactly something to get excited about, if for no other reason than the crummy ergonomics of a keyboard bolted to a display.

            There will always be an office in my house with a nice chair, a big-a$$ monitor, and a keyboard/mouse optimally positioned for my comfort. That’s where I’ll be doing “real work”. I’ll never be the type who sits on the couch with a laptop writing code or developing a powerpoint presentation.

    • codedivine
    • 7 years ago

    I always wonder how these firms come up with forecast figures. They state 10.3m. Not, say, rounded figure of 10m. But 10.3m. What gives them the confidence to add that 0.3m? And do they also provide confidence intervals?

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      Not using round numbers makes them seem like they know what they’re talking about.

    • Decelerate
    • 7 years ago

    Razer got it right with its Blade (if you trust the Verge’s, or was it Engadget article), so can’t the other companies pull something similar and succeed?

    Or just pull an “Tablet, out of tablet, tablet” HP move and die already…

    And as much as I like Intel, the whole “Ultrabook” standard is just bad. Do it right or don’t do it at all; this isn’t YOLO.

      • brucethemoose
      • 7 years ago

      Ya, they marketed the hell out of it.

      • Beelzebubba9
      • 7 years ago

      Is there any reason to get a Razer Blade over an rMBP? I read the review and couldn’t find one aside from the fact that the GPU is slightly faster.

        • Decelerate
        • 7 years ago

        rMBP?

        I didn’t say the Razer was good. I just mentionned that, according to the article, Razer is selling the Blade very, very well, and their focus included build quality

    • drfish
    • 7 years ago

    Hello? Hello? Anybody home? Huh? Think, McFly. Think!

    [quote<]I think offering high-quality systems at lower prices will probably help more than piling on features.[/quote<] Exactly. Oh and BTW this doesn't mean they have to officially be "ultrabooks" or only use Intel CPUs...

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