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Ultra-hyped ultrabooks ultra-flopped in 2012

Colin Neagle | Jan. 8, 2013
Just 12 months ago, the ultrabook was widely regarded as the PC market's savior. Since then, it's become more of a punch line.

As manufacturers examine customer feedback and conduct more research on how people are using ultrabooks, they'll be able to reshape the devices and build new ones without some of the more expensive components and parts. This will enable manufacturers to drop the price, Stice says.

In addition to pricing, Stice says PC manufacturers misfired when it came to marketing the devices. While "ultrabook" was an inescapable industry buzzword after the technology received praise at Computex and CES, manufacturers failed to reach the customers who live outside the technology world, Stice says.

This has already started to change, with television commercials introducing the device and its capabilities to mainstream markets. As the ultrabook pushes forward, Intel and PC manufacturers will need to focus on a combination of factors if they're going to successfully convince customers that they're worth buying, Stice says.

Manufacturers would do well to shed some light on their hybrid, or convertible, ultrabooks, which have the best opportunity to appeal to broad markets, Stice says. Those in the market for a notebook computer have most likely come into contact with a touchscreen by this point, or are at least familiar with the benefits of a tablet. However, they've been conditioned to use a QWERTY keyboard for years, and will be more comfortable typing long emails or creating documents in that form factor.

With convertible touchscreen ultrabooks, manufacturers have the opportunity to tell consumers that they don't need to choose between a tablet and a notebook, and can get both with one purchase, Stice says.

Intel appears to have recognized this, scheduling an event at this week's CES 2013 specifically to showcase convertible ultrabooks enabled with touchscreen navigation.

In order for Intel to successfully turn consumers onto touch-enabled convertible ultrabooks, Stice says Microsoft will need to chip in and help educate the public on Windows 8. As a touchscreen-compatible OS, Windows 8 bridged the gap between ultrabooks and the touchscreen, Stice says. If users are going to be expected to navigate the devices, they'll need to become familiar with the Windows 8 interface.

"So now that we've seen Windows 8 out, we're starting to see the advertisements and getting the external kind of push into the marketplace. And I think that needs to continue," Stice says. "They have to continue to give an education of what ultrabook is, how different it is, not just the fact that it's thin and light and small, but what else is out there."

For consumer markets, the ultrabook's battery life is one of the features that will need to be emphasized, simply because it's an easy way to portray the devices' advantage over tablets or other notebooks, Stice says.


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