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The IHS research group (www.isuppli.com) recently cut its projections of ultrabook sales in fiscal 2012 from 10.3 million to 22 million. However, Research and Markets (www.researchandmarkets.com) says that, although currently viewed as prohibitively expensive, ultrabook sales will explode in the next five years.
The research group thinks ultrabooks will account for 47% of annual notebook sales by 2016, based on info from business intelligence provider GBI Research. I think they're wrong.
According to the firm's latest research, 1.3 million ultrabooks were sold last year -- as you can see, the estimated sales numbers are all over the place -- but, thanks to technological advances and a drop in component prices, this number is predicted to reach a "massive" 148.7 million by 2016, says Research and Markets.
Ultrabooks (defined by thinner, lighter bodies and with a shorter boot-up time than typical notebooks) are expected to explode in popularity as cloud-based systems, such as Apple's iCloud and Google's Cloud Storage, become more prevalent and defy the need for a traditional hard drive, says the research group. The price reduction of microprocessors and flash memory, combined with an increase in production capacity for screens and casings, will also purportedly result in a drop in the average selling price of ultrabooks, from US$1,050 last year to $510 by the end of 2016.
For those looking to buy a decent, lightweight laptop, Apple's MacBook Air will continue to dominate, according to my crystal ball. As Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White recently told clients: ""Our checks thus far indicate that the price points for the new releases will be well over the $699 price threshold that we deem necessary for this new category to be a big success ... In our view, if consumers are not getting a significant discount for a Windows-based ultrabook, they will simply opt for the best and pay $999 for Apple's MacBook Air."
For those looking to buy an inexpensive portable device, Apple's iPad and iPad mini will decimate ultrabook sales, I predict. As Creative Strategies analyst Tim Majarin said:
"We have been privy to some very interesting research that shows that the market for laptops appears to be bifurcating into one that is focused on low cost notebooks and the other on the higher end of the notebook market," he writes. "The research suggests that the mid market for laptops is declining and that laptops priced at $699-$899 may be going away as users either opt for low cost laptops or if they want more powerful laptops, buy up to laptops in the $999-$1299 range instead. Part of this lack of overwhelming interest in the $699-$799 price range is also due to the iPad. The interest in the iPad remains high, and right now from our research we are learning much higher than notebooks by the mass market."
-- Dennis Sellers