Despite Intel’s marketing campaign to educate audiences about the ultrabook computing platform, most consumers are not biting. Intel may have jinxed itself with a premature prediction that 40% of all notebook computers this year would be ultrabooks. Uptake of thin and light portable computers during the first half of 2012 was disappointing, though new data from market intelligence firm ABI Research forecasts 20 million will ship worldwide in 2012.
Ultrabooks – a term coined by Intel for ultra-portable computers based on its processor architecture – are part of the broader portable computing market typically associated with the terms “laptop” or “notebook” PC. Targeted at mid-range prices, the most popular ultra-portable today is Apple’s MacBook Air.
“Initial ultrabooks came to market several hundred dollars above consumer expectations,” says senior practice director Jeff Orr. “High systems prices and waiting for the upcoming Windows 8 operating system are two leading reasons for lack of adoption.” Next-generation systems that bring prices down closer to audience requirements along with touch-screen models that provide versatile input methods are promised for 2013. The ultra-portable segment has significant growth potential as consumer expectations are met. A healthy growth rate of 53 percent is predicted over the 2012 to 2017 forecast period.
At the low end of portable computing is the Netbook PC. Netbooks kept the portable computing market afloat during the 2009 global recession by offering a low-cost solution for families and students. Now, the majority of PC OEMs have shifted focus away from the low-margin netbook toward more profitable media tablets.
The remaining netbook vendors are focused on educational deployments as a learning tool. Both OLPC and Intel’s Classmate PC partners continue to promote the use of technology within classroom settings all over the globe. More than 15 million netbooks are expected to ship worldwide this year. “Latin America has already taken advantage of the netbook opportunity, while the Eastern European markets are ramping deployments,” adds Orr.
The new market data “Netbooks, Smartbooks & Ultrabooks” tracks and analyzes audience and device segmentation for ultraportable computers. It forms part of ABI Research’s Netbooks, Smartbooks and Ultrabooks Research Service, which comprehensively analyzes the technology segments affecting growth of global portable computing.
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