updated 11:15 pm EDT, Thu August 11, 2011
PC builders doubt they can match 11in Air on price
Some Windows PC notebook builders are calling for steep discounts from Intel as they don't think the promise of a $300 million ultrabook fund is enough, sources explained late Thursday. Having been quoted over $700 in parts to make an 11-inch model to square off against the MacBook Air, they didn't think the $999 target price would be achievable without help. They told Digitimes that they needed Intel to both cut the prices on the processors themselves and offer a steep $100 marketing subsidy on every one of the ultraportables they sell.
A number of the companies who attended Intel's symposium on ultrabooks Thursday said they would hold off on committing to the category until they had talked more with Intel before the end of month.
The comments echo earlier complaints and create an ironic situation in which Windows computer builders don't believe they can compete with Apple on price. Intel's demand for very thin shells, long battery life, solid-state drives in some systems, and relatively fast low-voltage processors has put a strain on companies used to using cheaper components to lower the price at the expenses of thickness and performance. Acer, ASUS, HP, and Lenovo are believed to have committed to the idea and are helped by their large scale, but smaller companies might not have the financial strength to meet Intel's goals.
Apple's skill in controlling its supply chain may have also made competition difficult. Some competitors might have to use fiberglass instead of metal as Apple was one of the few forward-thinking enough to use aluminum early on and secure its supply before others.