updated 11:50 pm EDT, Thu October 6, 2011
Acer and ASUS use fiber to try and undercut Apple
Acer and ASUS are both expected to try a very different strategy to drop below Apple's base price in the ultrabook arena, tipsters said late Thursday. At least Acer would start off 2012 by making a 15-inch model using cheaper fiberglass, not aluminum, to get the light weight. Digitimes was told that Acer had wanted to aim for the fall but moved it back due to "unfavorable market conditions."
ASUS was also due to follow suit and would even use fiberglass from the same supplier, Mitac Precision Technology. Both of them could save just $5 to $10 for the pure casing, but they could shave as much as $20 from the complete design.
The use of fiberglass might be partly dictated by Apple's edge in supply for aluminum. However, many companies are known to have complained about pricing and have been both scrounging for cheaper parts as well as unsuccessfully petitioning Intel to get discounts so they can artificially price their systems below the MacBook Air.
ASUS is due to bring its first very light and thin ultrabooks to the US next week in the aluminum-shelled UX21 and UX31, with Acer's Aspire S3 due soon as well. Pricing has been a mystery, and with the UX21 carrying many features similar to the 11-inch MacBook Air, it might not necessarily dip much below Apple's $999 benchmark without making sacrifices.