Intel, which has been unable to crack the mobile processor market yet, has been betting on ultrabooks, to revive notebook sales which have been slowing down, and also steal the limelight away from tablets, which have seen sales explode in the past year. In August, its venture capital arm, Intel Capital started the $300 million Ultrabook Fund to encourage manufacturers to invest in the research and development of ultrabooks.
Its efforts seem to have bore fruit. Most major notebook manufacturers have either launched ultrabooks, or are working on them. Lenovo, HP, Dell are reportedly planning to launch ultrabooks soon. Samsung has announced its intentions to ditch the netbook business, and focus on ultrabooks completely.
Acer, Asus and Toshiba recently launched their ultrabooks, but none of them have been able to make much of an impact, as they don’t offer any significant price advantage over the MacBook Air.
For ultrabooks to go mass-market, they must first become much cheaper than they currently are. Most manufacturers are trying to bring down costs to below $1000, which is proving to be difficult due to the high cost of processors and SSDs.
A report by Digitimes says that ultrabook prices may drop by 5-10% in Q1 2012. Intel is reportedly offering a $100 marketing subsidy for every ultrabook to some manufacturers llike Acer, Asus and Toshiba, and also helping them with their marketing efforts in a bid to make ultrabooks popular.
Analysts expect ultrabooks to be available for $600-$800 in 2012. The launch of Windows 8 in mid-2012 could also lead to a boost in ultrabook sales.
With the smartphone and tablet market being almost completely dominated by ARM, and the PC market shrinking, the ultrabook market seems to be the only source of hope for Intel’s topline growth.