When the new Ultrabook category of laptop was first announced by Intel back in May, the company made what many in the industry believed to be a rather hopeful estimate about the share of the market it thinks the new type of computer will take in 2012.
“Intel obviously has huge plans for the Ultrabook. They say 40 percent of the market by next year. I think that’s pretty optimistic.” Kershaw added, “Acer and Asus, two of the biggest proponents, are starting to back off and say it’s closer to 20 percent.”
The analyst believes that production could be slow at first, as the new laptop ecosystem gets off the ground. This could mean that the cost of the new ultra-thin, ultra-light category of computer could be higher than hoped in the beginning, which could in turn deter consumers from taking an interest.
“It’s the components, including the processor, the metal chassis, the batteries, the thin frame. It’s harder to ramp up manufacturing. But once they go to mass [manufacturing] scale when [Intel’s] Ivy Bridge comes out, all of the costs are going to come down,” Kershaw told Cnet.
The analyst’s comments come as Taiwan-based Asus is rumored to be close to rolling out four new Ultrabook models in the US, possibly as early as next week. The laptops will be priced between $999 and $1499, with the low-end model featuring an 11.6-inch screen, a Core i5 Intel Sandy Bridge processor and a 128GB solid-state drive. The high-end Ultrabook will come with a 13.3-inch screen, a Core i7 chip and a 256GB solid-state drive.
Another Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer, Acer, is also thought to be bringing out a number of Ultrabooks, with prices starting at $899.
Several companies, such as Sony and Dell, are holding back until next year before introducing their Ultrabooks to the market. It’s believed they want to wait for the arrival of the new Ivy Bridge chip, which should provide improved performance over the Sandy Bridge chip currently being used. The reason for Sony and Dell wanting to delay are certainly understandable, but such a move will only make Intel’s 40 percent market share prediction look even less likely to happen.