updated 09:50 pm EST, Tue March 6, 2012
Acer reveals Windows ultrabook costs not working
Acer's Christoph Pohlmann in remarks Tuesday at CeBIT revealed that the company was selling ultrabooks at extremely thin margins. The base version of the Aspire S3 was being sold at a stricty break-even price at $799, he mentioned to The Verge. It was only viable at all as higher-end models had enough of a premium to make a small profit.
The systems were being sold at cost to drum up support for Acer's ultrabooks. He was doubtful of predictions made in the past by company global president Jianren Weng and repeated at CeBIT, where Weng envisioned $499 ultrabooks by 2013. It was difficult to even see a 499-euro ($655) ultrabook after costs came down, let alone $499, Pohlmann said.
His observations have suggested that whatever market share was being built for Windows-based ultrabooks was being done through unsustainable prices, at least at Acer. Although seldom directly acknowledged, PC builders have complained at not getting special discounts and having to compete with the ultrabook category's inventor, Apple, on equal terms. The need for an ultrabook to use more advanced materials, low-voltage processors, and often solid-state drives has prevented many of these companies from resorting to the cheaper and slower parts they're used to with full notebooks, either forcing them to price like Apple does or to shave their profit margins.
Intel has hoped for 40 percent of notebooks becoming ultrabooks within or by 2013. To date, however, sales have mostly fared poorly relative to the MacBook Air.