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

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 73
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 73
    axualaxual Posts: 244member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 73
    ruel24ruel24 Posts: 432member
    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!"
  • Reply 4 of 73
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 73
    ruel24ruel24 Posts: 432member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 73
    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!
  • Reply 7 of 73
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 73
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 73
    Inspired in part???? You mean more like 200%
  • Reply 10 of 73
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 73
    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"
  • Reply 12 of 73
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 73
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,612member
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 73
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 73
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 73
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member
    deleted
  • Reply 17 of 73
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 73
    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?
  • Reply 19 of 73
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 73
    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.
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