MANILA, Philippines — Chip-maker Intel is said to meet its ambitious goal of having the newly created segment of ultrabooks corner 40 percent of the total PC market worldwide by the end of the year, because of declining unit prices and the coming of Windows 8, an executive said Thursday.
Intel Philippines Market Development Manager Wowie Wong told InterAksyon they are “optimistic” about reaching their ultrabook targets for 2012, despite the overall market perception that the new thin and light notebooks are just too expensive for rapid market uptake.
“We’re doing all the best we can,” Wong told InterAksyon at the sidelines of the new Dell ultrabooks launch, which saw two new additions to the technology firm’s ultrabook lineup.
The Intel executive pointed out that relatively cheaper models are slowly penetrating markets, in an apparent attempt by the chipmaker and its PC-vendor partners to bolster the growth of the ultrabook segment.
Earlier in the year, however, Intel and PC makers had quite a struggle pushing ultrabooks to consumers, particularly due to the anticipation of Windows 8 and fierce rivalry from other mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Both analyst firms IDC and Gartner concluded that ultrabooks made little to no significant impact on the PC market in the second quarter of the year, with the former noting the pricing issue and the latter declaring the segment to be in an “early adopters stage.”
“Though Ultrabook was at first introduced in the market in 2011, the major promotion kicked off toward the end of 2Q12 with the Ivy Bridge-based Ultrabook release,” a Gartner analyst said.
Once Windows 8 comes into the picture by the last quarter of the year, however, Wong said they believe adoption of ultrabooks will “ramp up” to meet their 40 percent target.
“Performance-wise, we think Windows 8 is okay. But the Metro touch GUI would be most applicable when ultrabooks with touchscreen displays become available,” he said, referring to ultrabook form factors that sport touchscreen displays, which many PC makers already have in the pipeline, ready for launch once Windows 8 becomes available.
In its latest earnings call, Intel said about 40 models with touchscreen-keyboard form factors are currently in the works. CEO Paul Otellini added during the call that the market would soon see ultrabooks priced at $699 levels (around P30,000), blasting price issues out of the water.
Asked if they are threatened by Microsoft’s Windows 8 support of ARM-based devices, Wong said a cursory look at recent trade shows would already speak volumes about ARM’s prospects.
“I think out of the hundreds and hundreds of skews (in CES and Computex), I think there’s only one or two ARM-based device, and they can’t even tell when they would be released,” he said.
ARM-based devices supporting Windows 8 is a relevant development in the PC space because most tablets and smartphones today carry ARM-based processing units, which allow them to support mobile operating systems and sleeker form factors.
In contrast, Intel’s grand ultrabook initiative is fundamentally geared toward clawing back market share lost to other, newer mobile devices, with ultrabooks sporting a mixture of features typically found on tablets and smartphone — such as a long battery life, instant-on capability, and a thinner, lighter form factor.
Intel last year made the bold call that ultrabooks will comprise 40 percent of the PC market at the end of 2012 as it announced a $300 million ultrabook fund to get the ball rolling on driving the PC ecosystem toward ultrabook development.