While the Ultrabook category – first unveiled at last year’s Computex – has struggled to gain tract critical traction and consumer acceptance, a new report suggests that the portable computing category will grow three times as fast as the tablet market and eventually overtake the traditional notebook market by 2016.
According to the report by analyst firm Juniper Research, more than 178 million Ultrabooks will be shipped annually, but tablet-culture will still dominate with approximately 253 million units sold.
The report’s author, Daniel Ashdown, suggests that Ultrabooks will come down in price over the next five years due to a decline in component costs.
In an interview with The Register, Mr. Ashdown said he believes that manufacturers will begin producing cheaper ‘Ultrabook-lite’ models which have a similar look and feel but lower specs.
“All notebooks in five years’ time will look like Ultrabooks; it’s just the way things are going. But I can’t see Apple dropping the price of its MacBook Air because it is not a value player,” said Mr. Ashdown. “It’ll be very interesting to see if Apple comes out and invents another form factor. I could see it happening.”
However, in the report Mr. Ashdown notes that there are a number of obstacles facing vendors.
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
Mr. Ashdown also claims that the platform-agnostic Windows 8 will be a “big driver” for Ultrabooks when Microsoft releases the OS later this year, along the same time that Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge chips are due.