Ultrabooks a hard sell in Europe, say insiders

Is 2012 the year of the ultrabook? Many believe that yes, the super-thin and powerful next-gen notebook is on the cusp of moving from Wall Street to Main Street. PC makers showed off dozens of models at this year’s CES, and a planned price drop for ultrabook leader Acer’s Aspire S3 will make the device slightly more palatable to intrigued consumers.

Some industry insiders, however, believe global ultrabook sales will fall short of projections this year due to weak interest among Europeans.

Ultrabooks a hard sell in Europe, say insiders

Taiwanese IT news site DigiTimes reported Wednesday that sources within the supply chain are having second thoughts on just how much consumer attention ultrabooks will garner in 2012. Rather than the optimistic 40/60 split between ultrabooks and vanilla notebooks expected by chip provider Intel, they argue that European consumers’ disinterest in notebooks smaller than 15-inches will shave that figure down to a sobering 20/80.

Currently, most ultrabook models are 14-inches or smaller, narrowly missing that magic number. Acer’s first-to-market Aspire S3 is 13.3-inches.

There is hope for discerning European consumers, however. Intel boss Mooly Eden claimed at CES that 50 percent of the more than 75 ultrabooks scheduled to hit retail this year will boast 14 or 15-inch displays. Not a concession to that specific region, but a calculated move to attract more consumers hesitant to spend more for less screen space.

A general criticism of ultrabooks and roadblock to mainstream success is the average $1,000 price tag. Acer Chairman JT Wang has promised a $100-$200 price drop this summer for the company’s early S3 ultrabook, with the price falling to $500 by 2013. A new, souped-up S5 model is slated for Q2 2012.