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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.

"People understand it. It's not a technical term. Seven hours is better than six hours. That catches your eye," Stice says. "If [they're] looking at a choice between a media tablet and now they see this new PC that has fairly comparable battery life or better battery life, that will catch their eye."

As for the corporate markets, Stice says ultrabooks have a great opportunity to capitalize on an increasingly mobile workforce. As the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) approach to corporate mobility has become more common, users have realized what form factors are more conducive to their work day. Those who bought an iPad during its early hype, for example, may prefer the ability to convert the tablet into a notebook when it comes time to upgrade, Stice says.

"There are some advantages that an x86 convertible might have, as far as supporting legacy programs, being fully compatible with what they may be using in their cube or on their desktop or whatever the case may be," Stice says. "Not to say that the iPad isn't, but being able to work on a keyboard and do full-fledged content work on a convertible certainly could be attractive to a lot of users."

If nothing else, the ultrabook's first year on the market will go down as the genesis for further innovation in the PC market, Stice says. Whether the ultra-thin, power-efficient device sold as well as it should have in its first year will be less relevant in the future, when new devices will be designed with inspiration from the early ultrabook's features. Even if the name ultrabook doesn't survive, its influence will remain, Stice says.

"Ultimately that was really what Intel was trying to do, was drive the industry into new innovation and new form factors that are going to better compete. Are there still going to be the brick-style, typical notebooks that we all know and love today? Possibly and likely, from a pricing standpoint those are still relatively inexpensive," Stice says. "But I think going forward, I think we're going to see a lot of push into these thin type of form factors. Whether or not they're branded ultrabook kind of remains to be seen."


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