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Long-term estimate: ultrabooks to grow 3X rate of tablets

updated 01:00 pm EST, Tue January 24, 2012

Juniper says ultrabooks to grow fast but trail

A new Juniper Research prediction made the claim that ultrabooks would rapidly close in on, but not overtake, the lead established by tablets. The long-term guess has the MacBook Air-inspired notebook category growing three times faster than tablets between now and 2016. Its small start, however, would see shipments of 178 million where tablets' early lead would put them at 253 million.

The challenge, already seen in action today, would be getting the cost low enough to spur mainstream adoption. Windows PC builders, not used to having to compete at Apple's price levels, are trying strategies such as using hybrid hard drives to get some of the benefits of flash memory while still having access to cheaper, rotating hard drives. Although not mentioned in the study, some of them are also using cheaper materials for some of the case design, such as plastic or fiberglass rather than aluminum.

Rather than draw from each other, ultrabooks and tablets would primarily make netbooks their victim, Juniper said. Just a third as many netbooks would be shipping as are expected this year. The prediction was partly supported by Microsoft's latest results, which saw it lose six percent of Windows revenue owed not just to hard drive shortages but to netbook sales being lost to the iPad and other tablets.

Far-reaching estimates such as Juniper's can frequently get some details wrong and don't account for surprise introductions or outside factors. Intel may help make this come to pass, though, through its $300 million ultrabook fund for marketing. The chip designer is hoping that 40 percent of notebooks will be ultrabooks sometime in 2013.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The value-conscious...

    Consumers will always drool over the 60%-less price tag of bricks that are twice as heavy, but with 15.6-17" screen.

    The 3X figure is going to represent MacBook Air's sales figure over any other company's sales figure on the same item.

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Let me see now...

    So Apple make the original MacBook Air and everybody ridicules it as over-priced and under-powered and then Intel come along, copy the specification, slap their own "Intel Ultrabook" sticker on the side and now it's a category with a growth potential three times that of tablets, or rather iPads, which were also ridiculed as a solution in search of a problem. Is it just me that's dumb-founded?

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    2012: the year of Ultrabook backlash

    re: "Far-reaching estimates such as Juniper's can frequently get some details wrong and don't account for surprise introductions or outside factors. "

    I think one of the details that Juniper might be getting wrong is that consumers and businesses will suddenly realize that Ultrabooks just aren't worth it. That they're simply a clumsy attempt at expanding a niche market, the high-end executive Wintel laptop market, into the mainstream.

    Ultrabooks will quickly saturate a small market of suckers. The rest of the mainstream market will simply say "I'll just get a real MacBook Air and throw Windows onto it." Ultrabook sales will slow to a crawl, the manufacturers will be forced to drop prices, and the traditional (and inevitable) Wintel Race-To-The-Bottom will begin in earnest. Probably by the end of 2012.

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    not so sure

    The rest of the mainstream market will simply say "I'll just get a real MacBook Air and throw Windows onto it."

    That would make sense... but it also requires a certain degree of geekiness to install Parallels and then Windows. I'm not convinced most people would do it. I think if these competitors can turn out a reasonable competitor, many PC users will buy it.

  1. Dez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    At the expense of who, though

    Ultrabooks will probably grow at the expense of other laptops and netbooks, rather than at the expense of iPad

  1. The Vicar

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not convinced

    They're terribly underpowered -- anyone who buys one is bound to be disappointed and end up thinking "I should either have gotten a tablet or a real laptop". I don't see "disappoint your customer base" as a good rule for future growth.

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