updated 11:00 pm EST, Wed November 30, 2011
Acer sees ultrabook prices falling fast
Acer President Jim Wong has continued a string of comments on mobile late Wednesday with remarks expecting steep price drops in ultrabooks. Although they were sitting at $1,000 at the end of the year, the notebooks could get to between $799 and $899 by spring next year, he said with Digitimes in attendance. He fully expected prices to drop even steeper, down to just $499 in 2013.
The price drops if true could see ultrabooks accelerate and hit Intel's ultimate goal of having 40 percent of notebooks transition over to the extra-thin category by the end of 2012. Apple has so far dominated the category both because it effectively defined the design but also by claiming a price advantage where companies like Acer and ASUS aren't used to having to compete with similar parts.
Wong reiterated expectations of up to 300,000 Aspire S3 ultrabooks shipped in the fall and added that Acer wasn't facing as dire a problem as expected for its conventional notebooks. Hard drive shortages had created a much milder 10 to 15 percent deficit between PCs and systems needing storage, which while serious was much lower than a 30 to 35 percent gap that had been feared.
Fellow Taiwan PC builders Gigabyte and MSI weren't coping as well with ultrabooks, sources mentioned the same day. Both were struggling with losses in their notebook divisions, insiders said. Gigabyte reportedly made just 300,000 mostly conventional notebooks for all of 2011, while MSI has been shying away from the ultraportable category altogether, focusing more on gaming notebooks.
The hesitation, while possibly out of survival, could significantly narrow the field of competition for ultrabooks and leave it to the biggest players, which beyond Apple already include Acer, ASUS, HP, and Lenovo. Smaller manufacturers often don't get the same economies of scale and may find the already expensive notebooks harder to build.