updated 08:35 am EDT, Wed August 3, 2011
Taiwan builders complain they can't outprice Apple
Intel's ultrabook spec is triggering frustration among Taiwan-area PC builders used to having cheaper machines than Apple, local contacts claimed Wednesday. Chassis guidelines requiring metal shells, solid-state drives, and very efficient lithium-polymer batteries to replicate the MacBook Air prevent the companies from undercutting Apple on price. Unless Intel cuts its own prices, there's no real way to beat the Air, Digitimes was told.
The Intel hardware in a $1,000 system would make up a third of the price by itself.
Some are also supposedly complaining about having to change their notebook manufacturing processes. Not being used to the unified, soldered on designs Apple has been making since 2008, they would have to retool to get away from the traditional, bulkier, piece-by-piece manufacturing they're used to. Intel has been holding workshops with companies to improve methods and the parts themselves.
Local companies like Acer and ASUS have tried competing directly with the MacBook Air in the past but have tried to do so through conventional PC methods. Earlier CULV (Consumer Ultra Low Voltage) models like the Acer TimelineX have run below the Air in price but have been thicker, heavier, and less responsive through their construction and dependencies on spinning hard drives. ASUS will be the first Windows designer to have an ultrabook on shelves with the UX21 but may have trouble challenging Apple.
The Air has put the lay to stereotypes of Macs carrying a premium and has been unusually successful for Apple, where the MacBook Pro has usually the dominant but slower-moving model. Rumors have surfaced that the company will ship 1.5 million just this summer and make up a third or more of all Mac sales.