updated 11:05 am EDT, Tue October 25, 2011
Intel says work slow on dropping ultrabook costs
Intel's Asia-Pacific GM Navin Shenoy in an interview Tuesday said that ultrabooks weren't likely to get down to typical Windows PC levels in the near future. While Intel was helping to find ways to lower the price, Shenoy told Reuters that "more work needs to happen" from partners to dip much below the $999 price set by the originator of the category, the MacBook Air. The magic $699 price thought to bring mainstream adoption would come, but it wouldn't be in the first wave.
"At some point you'll have to be at that price point, but it doesn't have to be overnight," he explained. "It takes time to engineer a cost down."
He rejected, however, the calls from Windows PC builders to lower chip prices. Not used to using materials equal in quality and performance to those from Apple, such as aluminum and solid-state drives, PC builders have been asking for a price break on the low-voltage Core i3, i5, and i7 chips to artificially recreate the cost gap between their usual notebooks and MacBooks. Shenoy didn't think that an Intel discount would help as much. "Even if we're giving the chips away for free, we couldn't hit the price point we want to hit if we don't work with the rest of the industry," he said.
The ultrabook category, which focuses on systems under 0.8 inches thick with fast processors and solid-state drives, was enshrined by Intel earlier this year to both serve itself and its partners. It helps wean PC builders like Lenovo off of netbooks, whose Atom chips make little profit for Intel. Partners also get help by building some of the weight and speed benefits of tablets into their notebooks.
Acer, bruised by its overdependence on netbooks, is looking to Zenbooks just went on sale, has been more accepting of tablets as mainstream and sees ultrabooks as complements to tablets, not the eventual successors.