Intel Sets Bold and Risky Ultrabook Sales Target

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-05-31 Print this article Print

5. The market isn't looking for a new category

One must wonder if the marketplace is really even looking for an entirely new product niche. Consumers can now choose between tablets, desktops and notebooks. If they so choose, they can buy netbooks. Ultrabooks seem like an extra category that will do little to entice consumers and do far too much to confuse them.

6. Making the case is an uphill battle

Though it's easy for Intel to talk about the value of its Ultrabooks and why it believes consumers will buy them, the company is facing a seriously tough battle ahead of it as it tries to market its idea to customers. Consumers inherently "get" tablets. They also "get" notebooks. But can they understand an idea that combines those two elements and doesn't necessarily deliver the benefits of owning either type of product? It's tough to say. But if one thing is certain, Intel will have a tough time trying to get consumers to jump at the chance of buying Ultrabooks.

7. Is thinness enough?

Intel is extremely focused on ensuring that the devices labeled as Ultrabooks are some of the thinnest options on the market. But will that be enough to appeal to consumers? Sure, thin designs look neat on store shelves, but they can also be troublesome for users who drop the fragile devices. Thinness alone isn't enough to justify a purchase. Intel will need to rework its sales pitch to include more than thinness to make Ultrabooks a success.

8. ARM is a major issue

Intel's decision to offer a new product category in the computing market might make some wonder if it was a response to the pressure it's getting from ARM. That company, which delivers chip architecture to partners, is currently dominating the mobile market and could very well become a major player in the Windows ecosystem, thanks to Microsoft's announcement earlier this year that the software giant's next desktop operating system-presumably Windows 8-will support ARM-based processors. ARM is a threat to Intel and although the chip maker thinks Ultrabooks might help, they won't.

9. Will vendors sign on?

It's worth noting that Intel will not be developing Ultrabooks on its own. Instead, the company will be working with vendors, including Asus, to bring the computers to the market. The only issue is Intel will now need to find more vendors that will be willing to play ball, which might not be an easy task since Ultrabooks will need to sell well in order for more companies to sign on to the idea. At this point, vendor support could prove to be Ultrabooks' biggest problem.

10. The bar has been placed too high

At the Computex trade show where it announced Ultrabooks, Intel said that it believes by the end of 2012 the computers will represent 40 percent market share in the computing space. It was unclear whether the company was referring to the entire computer market or just the mobile-computing space. In either case, 40 percent might be a difficult number to hit. Ultrabooks will take time to get off the ground and appeal to customers. Intel is drawing the wrong kind of attention to Ultrabooks. By saying they will hit such a high mark, the company is leaving itself open to criticism. Anything less than 40 percent would be viewed as a failure. If Intel said nothing, it wouldn't have needed to worry about that pressure. 

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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