Intel was pretty gung-ho about the whole ultrabook thing a couple years back. Fast forward to today, and according to Charlie Demerjian of SemiAccurate, the company has changed its tune—at least internally.
"[T]here are documents floating around the company that use 'Failure' to describe the [ultrabook] program," writes Demerjian. "What is going to replace the smashing success of Ultrabooks? According to sources at Intel the new term is 'Two-In-One' also known as detachable screen notebooks."
In short, Intel might shift marketing dollars from ultrabooks to convertibles. Recently announced convertibles include Asus' Transformer T100, which is powered by a Bay Trail Atom processor, and HP's Pavilion 13 x2, which will be available with either AMD or Intel guts.
There's certainly no question that ultrabooks had a slow start. A year ago, IHS cut its 2012 ultrabook shipment forecast by more than half, with IHS analyst Craig Stice commenting, "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."
That said, earlier this year, iSuppli said it expected shipments of ultrabooks and "ultrathins" to grow to 28% of the PC market in 2013—up substantially from 9% in 2012. The research firm cited declining prices and a shift to hybrid storage as factors in the predicted growth.
But even if ultrabooks sell better this year than the last, I wouldn't be surprised to see Intel push convertibles. One of Windows 8's key selling points is its blend of traditional and touch interfaces, and convertibles are the ideal vehicle for that combination, since they can function as both tablets and full-fledged notebooks. With Haswell and Bay Trail bringing better performance to tight power envelopes, Intel has every reason to pursue convertibles going forward.