updated 11:40 pm EDT, Mon September 5, 2011
Ultrabook shipments below 50K to test field
The first batch of ultrabooks attempting to take on the MacBook Air might be produced with intentionally low production numbers to test the market, notebook industry insiders purported late Monday. Systems like the Acer Aspire S3, Lenovo IdeaPad U300s, and Toshiba Portege Z830 may all ship in early production runs under 50,000. The move Digitimes understood would be for "testing the water" to see if a market exists for non-Mac versions of the ultraportables.
Many of the companies had been burned by their experiences with CULV (Consumer Ultra Low Voltage) notebooks last year and didn't want a repeat, the tipsters said. Acer with its TimelineX and others making CULV systems had tried to straddle the gap between netbooks and full-size notebooks last year, but the segment didn't get significant traction. In many cases, the systems weren't dramatically faster than netbooks because of their slow processors but still had significant premiums because of both the chips and the larger screen sizes.
Intel is believed to be holding another of its ultrabook-related meetings on September 14 to both help overcome the technical limits Windows PC builders were facing as well as to persuade more companies to get onboard. Previous tips had revealed that companies were complaining they couldn't use cheaper parts like they preferred and otherwise weren't as familiar as Apple with ultrabook design strategies, such as metal chassis designs, solid-state drives and advanced battery techniques.
Some in the industry supposedly feel that the ultrabook is the "last resort" to driving Windows notebook shipments, which have largely struggled. The weight of the current global economy might render difficult Intel's target for ultrabooks making up 40 percent of portables by the end of 2012. Analysts at IDC and even HP have also pointed to a broader tablet effect on notebooks as some customers get one of the more mobile devices, usually an iPad, instead of full-size notebooks that they didn't necessarily need.