Even as research firm IHS iSuppli recently slashed its forecasts for Ultrabook shipments by over 50 percent, original equipment manufacturers are expecting the high-end, skinny cousins of traditional laptops to account for an increasing percentage of their total notebook PC sales. Computer manufacturer Hewlett Packard (HP) is expecting the Ultrabook segment to bring in 15-20 per cent of its total notebook PC sales by the end of 2013, according to a report by PTI. The company is also expecting Ultrabooks to pick up market share in the Indian market and increase in popularity.
"We expect that by the end of 2013, 15-20 per cent of our volumes will be that of Ultrabook and by 2014-end, it should be around 40 per cent. We have a strong line-up of products and across price points, which we think, would be a crucial factor," HP India Vice President and General Manager (Printing and Personal Systems Group) Rajiv Srivastava said.
At present, Ultrabooks comprise less than 10 per cent of shipments for HP India, he added.
HP's Envy Spectre 14 features among its Ultrabook line-up
Speaking about the current scenario in India, Srivastava said, "Currently, the contribution of Ultrabooks to the overall notebook market is low. It’s also a function of popularity and pricing. As more people go for Ultrabooks keeping in mind the functionality and more affordable devices come out, the category will only grow. “
The IHS iSuppli forecast presents a not-so-rosy future for Ultrabooks, cutting its forecast by over 50 percent. An estimated 10.3 million Ultrabooks will ship worldwide in 2012, according to an IHS iSuppli Compute Platforms Topical Report . This is down from the previous forecast issued earlier this year of 22 million units. In the newly adjusted forecast for 2012, more than half of the shipments for the year are expected to come in the fourth quarter. Along with the revised figures for 2012, shipments have also been modified for the next year, projected to rise to 44 million in 2013, down from the older outlook of 61 million.
Ultrabooks may also suffer from some marketing drawbacks. “So far, the PC industry has failed to create the kind of buzz and excitement among consumers that is required to propel Ultrabooks into the mainstream. This is especially a problem amid all the hype surrounding media tablets and smartphones. When combined with other factors, including prohibitively high pricing, this means that Ultrabook sales will not meet expectations in 2012,” said Craig Stice, senior principal analyst for compute platforms at IHS.
It is true that Ultrabooks are priced quite too high to enter the mainstream market with ease. Currently, if you intend to buy a decent Ultrabook, expect to shell out anything between Rs 55,000 to Rs 1 lakh. OEMs really need to get more systems with decent specs down to the Rs 40,000 price point in order to hit the volume levels needed to enter the mainstream. What’s more, with the launch of Windows 8 drawing close, if Ultrabooks running on the new operating system come close to the Rs 45,000-Rs 50,000 range next year, while adding attractive features like a touchscreen, sales can be expected to show much stronger growth than they currently do.