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Acer, Asus slash 'Ultrabook' orders by 40%, struggle against MacBook Air

post #1 of 74
Thread Starter 
Intel's thin-and-light "Ultrabook" design, inspired in part by the success of Apple's MacBook Air form factor, continues to struggle in the market, prompting PC makers Acer and Asus to reduce orders by 40 percent.

The two companies originally planned to order as many as 300,000 Ultrabooks by the end of 2011, but slow sales forced the company to reduce those orders to between 150,000 and 180,000 units, according to DigiTimes. The report labeled first-month sales of Ultrabook Windows-based PCs as "unsatisfactory," citing sources at original design manufacturers.

"Compared to Apple's MacBook Air, Acer and Asustek's Ultrabooks do not have advantages in either performance or industrial design," the report said, "and their weak sales were expected, the sources noted, adding that notebook players are putting their focus on after May 2012 with expectations to see surging demand in October 2012, when Windows 8 launches."

Ultrabooks are currently offered at a higher price range than typical low-cost PC models, and the Zenbook thin-and-light notebooks sold by Asus even had a higher starting price than Apple's MacBook Air at around $1,200 U.S. Apple's 11.6-inch entry-level MacBook Air starts at $999.

The slow Ultrabook launch was also affected by economic troubles around the globe, which continue to contribute to a slumping worldwide notebook PC market.

Intel unveiled specifications for its Ultrabook design in August, including a reference bill of materials for PC makers to build super-thin notebooks at a cost as low as $475. Intel's "Ultrabook" class aims to bring "tablet-like features" to thin-and-light notebooks below the $1,000 threshold.



But PC makers have struggled to reach the sub-$1,000 price point achieved by Apple with the MacBook Air, and prices of the first generation of Ultrabooks were generally much higher than Intel had proposed in its reference specifications. Ultrabook makers also felt the squeeze from Apple's control of the overseas supply chain, and struggled to build their unibody metal notebook chassis similar to the MacBook Air.

While Ultrabook makers have initially struggled, Apple last quarter saw its highest Mac sales ever, reaching 4.85 million units sold in the three-month period. The success of the ultraportable MacBook Air has led to rumors that Apple will revamp its MacBook Pro notebook lineup in 2012 with design cues learned from the Air. One report in October claimed that Apple was testing a ultrathin 15-inch MacBook, though it was unclear whether the computer is planned to be part of the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro family.
post #2 of 74
The Asus model is a ridiculous copy of the MacBook Air formula, down to the wedge shape, screen sizes, metal body, instant resume, chiclet keyboard layout, and touchpad. The major difference: they didn't go the extra mile. All of its components somehow add up to less than the sum of its parts. As if they were trying to shoot for the MacBook Air and fell short and said, yeah, this is good enough. We didn't obsess over it, we just shoved out clone out the door to make some cash.

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post #3 of 74
It appears more and more people are choosing quality over just price. Though some would argue Apple products like the MacBook Air are overpriced, the market would suggest otherwise.
post #4 of 74
Who didn't see this coming? The PC market has been a race to the bottom for far too long, and the idea of a premium PC is just foreign to everyone outside the hardcore gaming community, and even they will settle for lower quality stuff, sometimes, as long as it goes "whiz...bang!"
post #5 of 74
Dang. Initially read this "Acer, Asus slash 'Ultrabook' PRICES by 40%, struggle against MacBook Air." Good thing I wasn't drinking coffee when I did.

It's inevitable though. All the pretenders are fighting for market share and profit but chasing Apple to do it. Apple is blazing the trail and dropping a lot of followers in their path. There are a lot of smart, smart people trying but they're no match for the auteur that was Steve Jobs.
post #6 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by axual View Post

It appears more and more people are choosing quality over just price. Though some would argue Apple products like the MacBook Air are overpriced, the market would suggest otherwise.

Those that make that argument completely miss the point. An Apple product is more than just the hardware alone, though it is great hardware. An Apple product includes $29 OS upgrades, a unique OS that's a delightful experience and mostly free from the nasties that plague Windows, 1st rate customer service, and various other services such as iCloud and such. None of that is present in Ultrabooks, yet they expect to command nearly the same price.
post #7 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

The Asus model is a ridiculous copy of the MacBook Air formula, down to the wedge shape, screen sizes, metal body, instant resume, chiclet keyboard layout, and touchpad. The major difference: they didn't go the extra mile. All of its components somehow add up to less than the sum of its parts. As if they were trying to shoot for the MacBook Air and fell short and said, yeah, this is good enough. We did obsess over it, we just shoved out clone out the door to make some cash.

Spot on, Newton...used to be "lazy" companies could just copy the form factor... Not so anymore.

One of the most poignant comments Jobs made in the recent biography was, "to be successful in the tech business, you have to be 10 years ahead of everyone else."

Apple has put so much effort into all facets of the design of their products, ie., batteries, glass, antennae, cases (unibody), cameras, syncing (iCloud), Eco-friendly, efficient chips, etc., etc. Not to mention the OS and software.

It's impossible for lazy companies to replicate or reverse engineer an Apple product even when they tear down an iPhone, iPad, or MBA in their own labs. Apple has invested years to get the products to where they are today...competitors are reduced to making subpar products and spray painting the plastic bits "silver!"

The investment by Apple cannot be nullified by expensive photographs used by their competitors in slick advertisements.

Essentially, a lot of Apple's competitors are in the "business" of "going out of business!" Some more quickly than others!
post #8 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by ruel24 View Post

Who didn't see this coming? The PC market has been a race to the bottom for far too long, and the idea of a premium PC is just foreign to everyone outside the hardcore gaming community, and even they will settle for lower quality stuff, sometimes, as long as it goes "whiz...bang!"

This is exactly it. PC users have been trained by MS and Intel that PCs are commodities and that the only thing to look for is the Intel Inside sticker and the MS Windows sticker, and after that, maybe MHz and MBs.

Anyone who is interested in aspects of quality that go beyond stickers and numbers looks to Apple products.

It's a tough situation for the PC makers to be in -- their brands are so tarnished now that even if they do make a high quality product, most consumers don't believe it.
post #9 of 74
So, I think there may be a few things at play here.

First, the competition is not running MacOS X.

Second, and it's unfortunate, but due to the world economy, people with less money than others are not spending it. People with more disposable income I think tend to gravitate to higher quality products, therefore buying Macs.

Third, regardless of income, economy, and other factors, I think a large number of people are done with substandard products. The loss leader cheaply constructed junk just to save a buck isn't selling like it used to. People don't want to waste time and money (even if they have it) replacing items every other year, and so folks are starting to say no to that practice.

Fourth, the typical PC user (and big box store salespeople) are all about specifications. GHz, MB, TB, "blu-ray", HDMI, whatever... I'm guessing that most of them don't understand the ultra thin form factor.

The Zenbook doesn't look like it's cheaply made, but I haven't seen one in person. Of course it's also running Windows, so there's one strike against it. But, they need to be patient; things don't usually just 'take off' over night. Even Apple sold very few of the original MacBook Air laptops. Asus and the others are going to have to resist the temptation to 'pump it 'n dump it' if they want to be successful in the ultraportable market.
post #10 of 74
Inspired in part???? You mean more like 200%
post #11 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by mytdave View Post

So, I think there may be a few things at play here.

First, the competition is not running MacOS X.

Second, and it's unfortunate, but due to the world economy, people with less money than others are not spending it. People with more disposable income I think tend to gravitate to higher quality products, therefore buying Macs.

Third, regardless of income, economy, and other factors, I think a large number of people are done with substandard products. The loss leader cheaply constructed junk just to save a buck isn't selling like it used to. People don't want to waste time and money (even if they have it) replacing items every other year, and so folks are starting to say no to that practice.

Fourth, the typical PC user (and big box store salespeople) are all about specifications. GHz, MB, TB, "blu-ray", HDMI, whatever... I'm guessing that most of them don't understand the ultra thin form factor.

The Zenbook doesn't look like it's cheaply made, but I haven't seen one in person. Of course it's also running Windows, so there's one strike against it. But, they need to be patient; things don't usually just 'take off' over night. Even Apple sold very few of the original MacBook Air laptops. Asus and the others are going to have to resist the temptation to 'pump it 'n dump it' if they want to be successful in the ultraportable market.

Very well said! Great summary of the PC industry.
post #12 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

This is exactly it. PC users have been trained by MS and Intel that PCs are commodities and that the only thing to look for is the Intel Inside sticker and the MS Windows sticker, and after that, maybe MHz and MBs.

Anyone who is interested in aspects of quality that go beyond stickers and numbers looks to Apple products.

It's a tough situation for the PC makers to be in -- their brands are so tarnished now that even if they do make a high quality product, most consumers don't believe it.

U have distilled it down to one word, "commoditized!" Well done"
post #13 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by ruel24 View Post

Who didn't see this coming? The PC market has been a race to the bottom for far too long, and the idea of a premium PC is just foreign to everyone outside the hardcore gaming community, and even they will settle for lower quality stuff, sometimes, as long as it goes "whiz...bang!"

^ This

People don't associate PC's with something they enjoy and use voluntarily, something they want to pay good money for. People view PC's as necessary evil, something that reminds them of work, something that cannot really have much other qualities besides being cheap.

That's not saying PC's cannot be enjoyable or fun to use, something you want to spend money on, just that the PC industry made put in a lot of effort to make sure that PC's are associated with dullness, frustration and cheapness.
post #14 of 74
Absolutely zero surprise. How can the competition differentiate itself when they all run Windows and the performance hit taken after all the necessary x-ware is installed?

This is turning out the be the same as the non-event most tablets ended up becoming.

Consumers want quality, service, and more value for their hard-earned dollars. Many now know that Apple provides all that and more.

I'm certain the iHaters infesting this forum will spin this story to suit their agenda.
post #15 of 74
It's really simple, why buy an unknown untested design (the prior Asus models were plagued with wifi issues etc due to the aluminum case) that isn't much cheaper than a mature Macbook Air. Additionally, the AIr runs windows anyway so I have several friends who just got the Air to run Windows 7. Works great.
post #16 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Intel's thin-and-light "Ultrabook" design, inspired in part by the success of Apple's MacBook Air form factor, continues to struggle in the market, prompting PC makers Acer and Asus to reduce orders by 40 percent.

The two companies originally planned to order as many as 300,000 Ultrabooks by the end of 2011, but slow sales forced the company to reduce those orders to between 150,000 and 180,000 units, according to DigiTimes. The report labeled first-month sales of Ultrabook Windows-based PCs as "unsatisfactory," citing sources at original design manufacturers.

They just need MacRulez to tell them how to do it. After all, he says it's easy and anyone can do it.

I'm sure it would be better for them to pay him $1,000,000 rather than miss out on all those orders.

Quote:
Originally Posted by axual View Post

It appears more and more people are choosing quality over just price. Though some would argue Apple products like the MacBook Air are overpriced, the market would suggest otherwise.

It would be hard to argue that the MBA is overpriced - when it's less expensive than most of the competition.
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post #17 of 74
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post #18 of 74
The Air form factor is just awesome—especially the 11” size. After all these years computing, for me to love a new computer this much day in/day out, requires it to really impact my life and habits. A little machine that is SO FAST, yet I can grab it with one hand like its nothing and run out the door, is just terrific. I used to have a 13” Air and it’s just not the same. (Then again, my old Air didn’t have an SSD, which is a HUGE speed boost that cheap PCs seldom offer.) I even game on my 11” Air, hooked to a projector. I can’t max the detail levels, but games look great anyway! Now wait until I add a Thunderbolt GPU to that projector....

Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

It would be hard to argue that the MBA is overpriced - when it's less expensive than most of the competition.

Exactly.

Go to Dell’s site and try to make an ultraportable with SSD. Something as close as you can get to the Air’s weight, size and capability. You’ll come out with an Alienware “ultraportable” that has a few specs higher (like a better-but-not-great gaming GPU) and a few specs lower. It will match the Air in terms of lighted keys, no optical drive, and similar screen. But it will have a slower processor, no software bundle to match iLife, will be MUCH thicker, MUCH heavier, with worse battery life... and costing $600 more.
post #19 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Intel's thin-and-light "Ultrabook" design, inspired in part by the success of Apple's MacBook Air form factor, continues to struggle in the market, prompting PC makers Acer and Asus to reduce orders by 40 percent.

The MBA is very hard to compete against. Apple has designed a beautiful machine, and is able to sell it at a very competitive price.

Apple says that the form factor is the future of computers, and I believe it. Once they become full powered, or once most software, even semi-pro stuff for making videos and such, is slimmed down to work well, I think that it will be the form factor of choice for many people, and maybe even most.

I see the lack of internal storage as a major downside to the form factor, but with increasing opportunities for using the cloud, that might not be as big of a disadvantage in the future.

The MBA is perhaps the most difficult product for anybody to compete against at present. Is there any credible competition from anybody yet?
post #20 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

... It would be hard to argue that the MBA is overpriced - when it's less expensive than most of the competition.

That's what they call the Apple Tax Credit. Or maybe it's the Windows Tax. It all flies in the face of the conventional wisdom.
post #21 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by axual View Post

It appears more and more people are choosing quality over just price. Though some would argue Apple products like the MacBook Air are overpriced, the market would suggest otherwise.

While Apple products in general may or may not be overpriced, I've not heard that charge made WRT the MBA.

The pricing decisions made by the competition, IMO, indicates that the MBA is not overpriced in the least. IMO, the same conclusion can be drawn for the iPad/iPad2.

I think that until cellphones-plugged-into-docks become as powerful as the current Air, Apple will enjoy high sales of the MBA.

After that, it is anybody's guess. I think that Atrix-like devices are the "next big thing" following proliferation of these high-end netbooks, but gazing into the future is always hit or miss, IMO.
post #22 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post

How can they possibly expect to stand out when the user experience is entirely identical on every machine?

The opportunity for PC vendors lies in one factor: price.

But choosing designs that drive up costs, they've left themselves without any advantage at all, thus squandering the only chance they had.

The results they're experiencing were entirely predictable.

Yeah, it is kind of strange to see these Ultrabooks since these are nearly the same price, or in some configurations more expensive than a comparable MacBook Air, and yet, in the case of the Asus model, so obviously patterned in design after the Air, it invites comparisons, and there's nothing about this design that improves on the original; it screams "look, I'm a copy, please mistake me for a MacBook Air." And if you end up paying about the same price, it seems like a formula doomed for failure.

At least the "Netbooks" that came before these had price on their side, even if they were last-generation in specs and performance. The advantage was that you could get into a commodity Windows laptop for $299-ish if you were willing to accept compromises on specs and build materials. They amounted to disposable mini-notebooks. While that is not appealing to me personally, there is a market for that sort of thing.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #23 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by ddawson100 View Post

Dang. Initially read this "Acer, Asus slash 'Ultrabook' PRICES by 40%, struggle against MacBook Air." Good thing I wasn't drinking coffee when I did.

It's inevitable though. All the pretenders are fighting for market share and profit but chasing Apple to do it. Apple is blazing the trail and dropping a lot of followers in their path. There are a lot of smart, smart people trying but they're no match for the auteur that was Steve Jobs.

Give it time... it may say "prices" yet.
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post #24 of 74
the only way pc's can compete is to be a lot cheaper. this has always been the case. they can never compete in quality and user experience. if they can't be at least 40% cheaper, they have no advantage over the macs.
post #25 of 74
There was no way this was going to work with a head-on battle against Apple at the $1000 and up range. Apple monopolized that market years ago. Other PC vendors have pushed so much $400 crap over the years they can't be trusted. They need to come in under $800 for essentially the same machine to compete with Apple, but that's simply not possible with Apple's ability to source components and and manufacturing for millions of the same machine model per year.
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post #26 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post


Apple has put so much effort into all facets of the design of their products, ie., batteries, glass, antennae, cases (unibody), cameras, syncing (iCloud), Eco-friendly, efficient chips, etc., etc. Not to mention the OS and software.

The problem for other companies is that Apple spends years developing products. The iPad predates the iPhone (probably 2005ish), and then suddenly people tried to slap together a tablet and some software together in less than a year after they saw the iPad.

Apple's been working with flash since the iPod Nano. They've been making unibody laptops since 2008. They also make the OS, so they can optimize the software to run on flash, small screens, improve battery life, etc. You've got the world's most valuable company distilling this knowledge into basically two laptops (MBA and MBP). Is it any surprise that the results are hard to mimic?
post #27 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

While Apple products in general may or may not be overpriced, I've not heard that charge made WRT the MBA.

It's been a decade since one could reasonably saw Macs are overpriced for the market. An individual can say that a product is overpriced for them, but when a company is taking 1/3 of the profits form a market then it's hard to argue a product cost's is too high for that market.

Quote:
After that, it is anybody's guess. I think that Atrix-like devices are the "next big thing" following proliferation of these high-end netbooks, but gazing into the future is always hit or miss, IMO.

There are plenty of pros and cons with the Atrix concept. It's certainly not a new concept, but I hope you can see that if Apple does go down that route they will have an easier time of it than anyone else because they 1) design their own HW and SW, and 2) already have an OS that uses the same foundation for a touch-based Ui and pointer-based UI.
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post #28 of 74
Quote:
Asus even had a higher starting price than Apple's MacBook Air at around $1,200 U.S. Apple's 11.6-inch entry-level MacBook Air starts at $999.

Is that what we call the Mac Clone tax?
post #29 of 74
Even more news of Apple's competitive advantages in PCs with MacBook Air

But I never cease to be amazed how the manipulators can drive down even a major cap like Apple with a co-ordinated bear raid using a combination of an flimsy, unsubstantiated rumour by some Tawanese Chinese newspaper that Apple is cutting back orders for components as a restarted by result of slow iPhone and iPad sales,. This report was then picked up and amplified by DigitTmes quoting anonymous sources, while completely ignoring several Analysts who (after channel checks) report there is no substance to this report and sales of iPhone continue to be exceptionally strong.

But the manipulators ignores these bullish Analysts and instead the talking heads on Bloomberg etc highlight a negative report from a small boutique researcher who appear to believe these anonymous Chinese reports.

Those of you who have Level 2 could see wave after wave of short selling this morning based on the above rumours.

The silver lining is that this bear raid leaves a great entry point for the long term investor. Many these short sellers will have to cover, many by the end of the day.

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...tercation.html

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles..._disputed.html


l
post #30 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by acslater017 View Post

The problem for other companies is that Apple spends years developing products. The iPad predates the iPhone (probably 2005ish), and then suddenly people tried to slap together a tablet and some software together in less than a year after they saw the iPad.

Apple's been working with flash since the iPod Nano. They've been making unibody laptops since 2008. They also make the OS, so they can optimize the software to run on flash, small screens, improve battery life, etc. You've got the world's most valuable company distilling this knowledge into basically two laptops (MBA and MBP). Is it any surprise that the results are hard to mimic?

Agreed, acslater017.
post #31 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by axual View Post

It appears more and more people are choosing quality over just price. Though some would argue Apple products like the MacBook Air are overpriced, the market would suggest otherwise.

The iPhone, iPad, and the Macbook Air lines are clear refutations of the "Apple Tax" premise. I would even add the iMac to that category if you really compare component quality (e.g. the screen) to alternatives.

It's a competitor's worst nightmare. For years, competitor's alleged a price premium for Apple products and then Apple pulls that rug out from under them. At best, competitors match prices but rarely beat them. And they left the impression that Apple products have a higher quality in place...because they are of higher quality.
post #32 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by focher View Post

The iPhone, iPad, and the Macbook Air lines are clear refutations of the "Apple Tax" premise. I would even add the iMac to that category if you really compare component quality (e.g. the screen) to alternatives.

It's a competitor's worst nightmare. For years, competitor's alleged a price premium for Apple products and then Apple pulls that rug out from under them. At best, competitors match prices but rarely beat them. And they left the impression that Apple products have a higher quality in place...because they are of higher quality.

Honestly the 15 and 17" MBP and the Mac Pro are the only areas where Apple's prices feel weak compared to the competition. The Mac Pro really isn't that badly priced compared w/other Xeon workstations. I would really like to buy a 17" MBP next spring, but the price tag really hurts.
post #33 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


They need to come in under $800 for essentially the same machine to compete with Apple,


I disagree.

All they need to do is to release something like the Air for around the same price. If they do, millions of aging Windows laptops would be upgraded.

But releasing something like the Air for around the same price as the Air is easier said than done.
post #34 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

I disagree.

All they need to do is to release something like the Air for around the same price. If they do, millions of aging Windows laptops would be upgraded.

But releasing something like the Air for around the same price as the Air is easier said than done.

Dude, they did. That's what the Asus Zenbook is.

http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/21/a...k-ux31-review/
Quote:
After the first Ultrabook left us feeling lukewarm, we grew hopeful that maybe, just maybe, ASUS' Zenbooks would get it right. While the S3 has little more to offer than a low price point, the UX31 has an arresting design and SATA III SSD that promises superior battery life and performance. And it still manages to undercut the Air by two hundred dollars, even though the two have similar specs.

And yet they are reducing their orders by 40% as they struggle against the MBA... Why are facts so hard for you?
post #35 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


There are plenty of pros and cons with the Atrix concept. It's certainly not a new concept, but I hope you can see that if Apple does go down that route they will have an easier time of it than anyone else because they 1) design their own HW and SW, and 2) already have an OS that uses the same foundation for a touch-based Ui and pointer-based UI.

Interesting.

The challenge Apple would have with a product like that would be to keep the avenues for data uptake limited. If they could pull it off, and keep customers firmly within their ecosystem, they would have a huge advantage over anybody else.

So what are the disadvantages of the Atrix concept? I'd love to carry around some kind of "hard drive with everything I might want" combined with "any and all interface choices, both input and output" in my pocket.

Other than obvious current technical limitations like data storage size/local interface/battery life, what are the cons of the Atrix concept? I think its kind of cool, and if it can be done well, I think it would be very convenient.
post #36 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vorais View Post

Dude, they did. That's what the Asus Zenbook is.

http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/21/a...k-ux31-review/


And yet they are reducing their orders by 40% as they struggle against the MBA... Why are facts so hard for you?

The Zenbook looks very nice, but I'm not sure that it is nearly as nice as a Macbook Air.

Leaving that aside, it is fairly new to the market, so I'm not sure how it could have much affect on overall numbers at this point. If it is the first of a bunch of increasingly nice Ultrabooks, at competitive prices, the the new ones might sell better than the ones they are cutting back on.

Nice machine, though. I'll have to find one to play with.
post #37 of 74
To be fair, the ASUS uses identical processors, better speakers, and faster SSDs than the Air, and is $200-$250 less, so they made a good effort. The 13" also has a higher resolution. I think the issue is what others have said in that people expect Windows PCs to be "cheap" and thus are taken aback by a $1000-$1500 notebook, even one with premium parts. Apple has a nice niche with the Mac, and it has a clear differentiator in that it runs a different operating system.
post #38 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

I disagree.

All they need to do is to release something like the Air for around the same price. If they do, millions of aging Windows laptops would be upgraded.

But releasing something like the Air for around the same price as the Air is easier said than done.

Years ago it was reported Apple has over 90% in unit sales of the $1000 and up PC market. On top of the average selling price for non-Mac PCs seems to hover around $700-750.

For these reasons I don't think Apple's competitors will be able to crack the $999 and up market with a copycat machine, even it was equal on performance and TCO, and when it's 35% higher in price than what PC customers are willing to pay. Note that Mac customers typically are around $1,200 but I think that may have dropped with these new MBAs coming on the scene.

They shot themselves in the foot by offering too many bidet machines at $400 so that a $700 PC must be a great buy. People inevitably found the reliability wasn't great (partly Windows fault) and that they ended up using a computer more in their daily lives. Now you people that would have purchase a cheap laptop spending that money on an iPad, which will further hurt the PC vendors.
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post #39 of 74
Apple uses more or less the same Intel chips, memory, HDs, SSDs, and screens in the MacBook Air that the Ultrabook makers use in their clones. And yet Apple still beats them in quality *and* price. That raises the obvious question.

Question: Why can't the Acers and Asus-es of the world sell cheaper MacBook Air clones?

Answer: They can. But they won't. That would defeat the purpose of the Ultrabook: to end the Wintel race to the bottom.

The Ultrabook isn't supposed to be cheaper than the MacBook Air. It's supposed to be priced the same, to look roughly the same, to provide the same profit margins, etc. And Acer and Asus would make plenty of money if they sold as many of them as Apple sells MacBook Airs. But they're not. And they won't. They knew that all along, which is why Intel was forced to spend $300 million to bribe them to join the "Ultrabook Initiative."

It costs money to build a new assembly line, possibly with new manufacturing techniques, for an all-new product. You need to know that the product will sell well enough to at least break even. Unless you're paid to do it. Hence the $300 million from Intel.

It doesn't matter how good-looking Ultrabooks are or how big their profit margins are if sales are weak. And as we all know, the PC-buying public (and corporate IT departments as well) have been trained, for decades, to seek out the lowest price on their generic PC computing hardware. They've been trained to not care that their PC is ugly and/or bulky. "Oh well, whatever. It was cheap."

The entire Wintel PC industry is built around the low-volume / high-margin commodity model. There is almost no market for high-end "executive laptops" in the Wintel world. Trying to sell $1000 Wintel laptops, even if they're kind of slick, is nearly hopeless.

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post #40 of 74
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Originally Posted by KPOM View Post

To be fair, the ASUS uses identical processors, better speakers, and faster SSDs than the Air, and is $200-$250 less, so they made a good effort. The 13" also has a higher resolution. I think the issue is what others have said in that people expect Windows PCs to be "cheap" and thus are taken aback by a $1000-$1500 notebook, even one with premium parts. Apple has a nice niche with the Mac, and it has a clear differentiator in that it runs a different operating system.

Agree. I would add that there is zero brand loyalty among Wintel PC buyers. Price is everything.

Oh, and let's not forget the Windows Tax. As PC hardware prices continue to drop, the Windows license becomes an increasingly larger percentage of the PC's overall cost. Microsoft needs to make money on every Windows license sold. Apple doesn't need to make money on OS X licenses. They make their money on hardware margins now, just as they always have. And they will make more and more money on software content and services in the future as hardware inevitably becomes cheaper and cheaper.

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