The high asking price of early Ultrabooks may sway some consumers, but over the next five years the lightweight laptops are set to rapidly overtake tablet shipment growth, research suggests.
Shipments of Intel’s Ultrabooks are forecast to grow at more than three times the rate of tablets over the next five years, according to analyst Juniper Research’s forecast.
Tablets still have the head-start on the thin laptops and will top Ultrabooks by volume in 2016, reaching 253 million shipped units compared with 178 million Ultrabooks.
The category is set to evolve as manufacturers double up on solid state drives and hard disk drives and supplement storage space with cloud storage over the long term.
On the software side, Windows 8 is tipped by the report to “play a pivotal role in driving Ultrabook adoption” by offering extended battery life and constant connection.
The report suggests that manufacturers must differentiate their products from the Macbook Air – the dominant thin notebook first released by Apple in 2008 – to entice buyers.
“As we have seen in the tablet market, without products which are significantly differentiated from those of Apple in terms of price and features, gaining traction for its competitors is a difficult value proposition.”
Author of the report, Daniel Ashdown, has put the high asking price as one of the major binds for manufacturers pushing out Intel’s new standard.
“While Intel’s control of the brand ensures that Ultrabooks stand out from traditional notebooks, vendors face a balancing act in terms of product strategy,” said Ashdown.
“Meeting Intel’s specification secures brand status and funding, but the step-change from notebooks means many of today’s Ultrabooks are too expensive for many consumers.”
More bad news for netbooks is forecast, with shipments dropping to a third of today’s volumes by 2016 as tablets and low-cost notebooks with superior power cannibalise on sales.