Acer, the world's fourth-largest PC vendor, is putting a lot at stake in the Intel-backed ultrabook concept, with its chairman reportedly predicting that once prices on the systems come down next year, the Wintel-based devices will be the major growth driver of the PC industry.
Apple, Google and Wintel will be the primary PC platforms in 2012, Acer Chairman T.J. Wang said in a report from Taiwanese news site DigiTimes. However, within the next two years, Apple's influence will wane a bit, while Wintel's will grow, due in large part to the rise of ultrabooks, super-thin and light notebooks with features found on tablets, including instant-on and always-connected capabilities and long battery life.
Ultrabooks, which have been championed by Intel, will take off in 2012 as the price of the systems comes down to as low as $699, Wang said. At that price, ultrabooks will be able to challenge both Apple's MacBook Pro thin notebook and tablets.
Pricing has been a major issue since Intel executives first introduced the ultrabook concept in May. Acer, Asus, Lenovo and Toshiba were among the first PC makers to support the ultrabook idea, and all have since released the first of their ultrabooks, which are powered by Intel's current 2nd Generation Core Sandy Bridge chips.
However, Intel is readying the release next year of its 22-nanometer "Ivy Bridge" chips, which promise greater performance and energy efficiency over the Sandy Bridge offerings. They also will feature Intel's new 3D Tri-Gate transistor architecture to help drive down power consumption.
Intel has outlined several specifications-including a thickness of less than 0.8 inches, as key parts of the ultrabook ideal, and the burden is on component makers to meet the specifications while still helping drive the cost to less than $1,000. Most of the initial ultrabooks from Acer and others run more than $1,000.
Intel has made several moves to support systems makers and help drive down the cost of ultrabooks, including offering architectural reference designs and creating a $300 million fund to help hardware and software makers that develop technologies for ultrabooks.
Wang also confirmed that Acer would streamline its product lines starting next year, with the company paring its offerings by two-thirds, according to DigiTimes. The goal is to complete the streamlining project within three years.
However, while the product lineup may shrink, Acer officials are expecting sales to grow 10 percent annually. Acer in the third quarter held 10.6 percent of the worldwide PC market in units shipped, trailing Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Dell, according to market research firm Gartner.
This comes days after reports surfaced that both Acer and Asus were planning to remove some notebooks and netbooks from their respective product lines, in hopes of gaining better brand value and a more focused corporate strategy.