New Ultrabooks still viewed as 'too pricey' next to Apple's MacBook Air

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
The latest batch of Windows-based Ultrabook PCs will not undercut Apple's ultraportable MacBook Air enough on price to win away most consumers, according to a new analysis.

Brian J. White of Topeka Capital Markets is at the Computex show in Taipei, Taiwan, this week, where he got a closer look at some of the next-generation lineup of computers based on Intel's thin-and-light Ultrabook specification. He didn't come away impressed.

"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," White wrote in a note to investors.

Shown off at Computex was a new Gigabyte-branded Ultrabook that has an 11-inch screen and a carbon fiber exterior. It will launch in July for a price point of between $999 and $1,299.

Acer and Asustek also showed off what White said are "attractive" Ultrabook models. Again, though, he believes price will be an issue for those notebooks looking to compete with Apple's MacBook Air.

"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," he said.

MacBook Air


Intel's Ultrabook specification was inspired by the success of Apple's MacBook Air, which relies entirely on solid-state storage and lacks an optical drive to offer both a super-thin design and long battery life. Apple is expected to soon update its MacBook Air lineup with Intel's latest-generation ultra-low voltage Ivy Bridge processors.

This week White also attended the Microsoft Forum 2012 keynote address at Computex, which focused on the launch of Windows 8 this October. In that presentation, Microsoft described Windows 8 as a "platform of ecosystems" rather than the "separate ecosystems" that are available under Windows 7.

"The look, feel and functionality of Windows 8 is certainly an upgrade from Windows 7 and should be a successful launch this October," White said. "However, we still believe the Apple digital grid (or ecosystem) remains the most closely integrated and intuitive in the world."

At the start of his trip, White received word from sources in Apple's supply chain that the company is gearing up for an "exciting" month of September. He sees Apple launching both its next-generation iPhone and a smaller, 7.85-inch iPad in that month.

In particular, White believes a so-called "iPad mini," featuring a smaller form factor and lower price, could be a big hit for Apple in the education market, where both institutions and students might be looking for a more portable and affordable iPad.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 45
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member
    There is an ultra book (i think dell) with an i5 and 13.3" in the best but ad this week for $799. I wouldn't buy it- but almost 40% less- that's a pretty significant discount. Not sure what the thread is talkin about. Windows PCs go on sale all the time (mainly due to necessity)- so one could get discounts easily. $799 isn't bad at all- if you HAD to go PC for whatever reason.
  • Reply 2 of 45
    zarenzaren Posts: 49member


    "iPad Mini" = iPod Touch. I've been saying that for a while.


     


    Also, I placed an order for an Air for work late last week. I just got a notice from Apple today that shipping will be delayed until the 13th. Woo.

  • Reply 3 of 45
    enzosenzos Posts: 344member


    JB HiFi and Dick Smiths (discount electronics stores in Oz) display the Macs on one table and the PCs on a couple of others. My observations (FWTW) over a few visits lately is that people are not looking at the ultrabooks (which are discounted far more than the MBAs). I've only seen sales of the old fashioned PC crap for around $400 to $600 and couple of MBAs and a MBPro (the one I talked my sister into buying).


     


    --


    Written on the best computer I've ever owned, a 13" MBA!

  • Reply 4 of 45
    kyrrakyrra Posts: 5member


    A lot of people are used to and like Windows, these people aren't as willing to take the dive into a OSX machine, especially if they have to sacrifice some of the apps they use daily.

  • Reply 5 of 45
    MacProMacPro Posts: 16,945member
    IMHO the Wintel client base (consumer that is) is made up mostly of those wanting to pay as little as possible for what they perceive as a lot. Now Apple has such buying might on parts they simply can't be undercut on a specification matched product built to anywhere near the same standard. You've only got to look at the laptops in Best Buy or wherever and notice the specs on inexpensive machines ... intel i3s no less. Basically the days are over when Apple products are pricey when you actually look at what you are getting.
  • Reply 6 of 45
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,377member
    zaren wrote: »
    "iPad Mini" = iPod Touch. I've been saying that for a while.

    Also, I placed an order for an Air for work late last week. I just got a notice from Apple today that shipping will be delayed until the 13th. Woo.

    Woo as in I want it now or Woo as in, hmm, they might release a new model next week, show it at WWDC and ship the latest to you. I think the latter, as they are in stock and if you've ordered late last week than this is a weird long time for them to ship - whatever version.
    IMHO the Wintel client base (consumer that is) is made up mostly of those wanting to pay as little as possible for what they perceive as a lot. Now Apple has such buying might on parts they simply can't be undercut on a specification matched product built to anywhere near the same standard. You've only got to look at the laptops in Best Buy or wherever and notice the specs on inexpensive machines ... intel i3s no less. Basically the days are over when Apple products are pricey when you actually look at what you are getting.

    Fully agree. Funny how the PC market neglected the $ 1799 air when it was released Jan 30, 2008 and the more Apple sold the more price cuts it got. Now at $ 999 and Apple has the luxury of making it up in volume, whilst the PC industry is trying to tick off checkboxes.
  • Reply 7 of 45
    jmgregory1jmgregory1 Posts: 445member


    Maybe, just maybe, people are finally figuring out the old adage, "you get what you pay for", when it comes to "cheap" laptops/computers/phones/tablets.  It's not just about the piece of hardware, but the software, the integration with other pieces of hardware (smartphones, tablets) and the overall user experience.


     


    It's how I've always looked at Apple and this thinking has spilled over to other products I use.  I get the sense that this is becoming true for more and more people.  We all want to spend the least amount of money possible for any particular product, but if you spend X dollars on a product that either fails within a year or costs you extra to make it work the way you want/need, then it's just not turning out to be the smart buy.


     


    The issue I see with every manufacturer trying to compete against the Air's is that they're trying to compete against the Air's.  What ever happened to coming up with something new, different, better?  And it really needs to be all three - new, different and better.  Not just different for different's sake, which seems to be how many of these players are going about their product development.  Granted, there is only so much you can do to be new, different and better, but I think that if any company wants to make a significant in-road against Apple, it's critical they look differently at how they do things.

  • Reply 8 of 45
    tokenusertokenuser Posts: 69member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jmgregory1 View Post


    Maybe, just maybe, people are finally figuring out the old adage, "you get what you pay for", when it comes to "cheap" laptops/computers/phones/tablets.  It's not just about the piece of hardware, but the software, the integration with other pieces of hardware (smartphones, tablets) and the overall user experience.



    There was a time that when yo did a cost analysis and looked at the benefits of using MacOS vs using Windows, unless you were a graphics professional it made much more sense to go the Windows route than investing in the Apple universe.


     


    Apple is still a little more expensive in some areas for comparable hardware (MBP type gear), but a little cheaper in others (MBA style Ultrabooks). Unless you are a gamer (and while a Mac can play games quite nicely and an increasing number of games are also released to run natively under OSX) that cost benefit gap has closed right up.


     


    Why are gamers different? To be honest they aren't much different to people doing video production even at a consumer level, but the options for video cards in the PC world is much greater, and the ability to tweak the maximum FPS out of a FPS (dont you love it when acronyms are the same but mean different things?) on a budget is higher ... but even that gap is closing.


     


    Unfortunately the idea of the "Apple Tax" is outdated, but still pervasive.


     


    Can i have my new MBP now?

  • Reply 9 of 45
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    kyrra wrote: »
    A lot of people are used to and like Windows, these people aren't as willing to take the dive into a OSX machine, especially if they have to sacrifice some of the apps they use daily.

    Which is why when MS drops the ball that Apple needs to use that negligence to their advantage. People had to buy new apps when Windows were shipping as 64 bit and now people who buy an ARM based tablet or notebook will have to do the same. Vista caused a lot of people to question their next "PC" purchase and I think Win8 is failing into that same category. Metro, as nice as it is for MS, will be unsettling to many casual users. It might advance iPad purchases more than Mac purchases but I think it will hurt Windows-based PC sales over the next year.
  • Reply 10 of 45
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,143member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Kyrra View Post


    A lot of people are used to and like Windows, these people aren't as willing to take the dive into a OSX machine, especially if they have to sacrifice some of the apps they use daily.



     


    True. And for those types of folks nothing is going to make them want to switch even if the Air is cheaper. It's the same game as those that are die hard Mac users. Put them in front of a Windows machine and they practically get hives. 


     


    Personally I think that these Ultrabooks are aimed more at those folks than the general user. Which is why no one is making a major effort to reduce the prices. Die hards are more than willing to pay for the perceived value of the item at a much higher range than the common user.


     


    It's like electronic books. Pricing a bodice ripper the same is a no go because the electronic version has no perceived value to justify the price. But the electronic version of a textbook. Even without all the ibooks fancy stuff that Apple put in there, just being able to give every kid a clean unmolested copy  of the book is a huge perceived value that can be seen as justifying paying the same price. 

  • Reply 11 of 45
    haarhaar Posts: 563member
    well at least this ultrabook format has been discounted (IMO) when sold to universities( u of waterloo).
    I say this because my brother got the ultrabook " to use" because he was presenting at a conference in Israel...
    (my first thought when he told me that he received an ultrabook was why not a macbook air... but the software he has to run was not not on an airbook and i assume dual-booting was not in the cards. BTW the software was a pain to install on the ultrabook.
  • Reply 12 of 45
    mac'em xmac'em x Posts: 89member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Kyrra View Post


    A lot of people are used to and like Windows...



     


    A lot of people are used to and like Windows.


     


    And I agree, that alone is enough for a lot of people to stay with Windows.

  • Reply 13 of 45
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,166member
    andysol wrote: »
    There is an ultra book (i think dell) with an i5 and 13.3" in the best but ad this week for $799. I wouldn't buy it- but almost 40% less- that's a pretty significant discount. Not sure what the thread is talkin about. Windows PCs go on sale all the time (mainly due to necessity)- so one could get discounts easily. $799 isn't bad at all- if you HAD to go PC for whatever reason.

    They're talking about comparable machines. One can always find cheaper machines that aren't equal in either build quality or internals. One of the problems third parties have expressed it that they can't make a comparable machine with a machined case as Apple has. They're going to cheaper materials instead, and that's noticeable, according to several hands on reports. They're also going to cheaper displays, slower processors, etc.
  • Reply 14 of 45
    DaekwanDaekwan Posts: 170member


    I was about to start my post with "What dumbazz would pay the same amount of money for Ultrabook, as they could pay for a Macbook Air".


     


    And while I still dont feel much differently from that point, I have to understand all of us are individuals and have different needs/wants/likes.  And that many people simply dont know any better (i.e. they have never used a Macbook).  As others have said, there are those who use Windows and want to use nothing else.  And while I love my Macbook to death, OSX is only half of the equation.  Being a person that buys a new laptop pretty much every year, I was pleasantly surprised when I finally made the leap from the Dell-HP-Gateway-Acer-Toshibas of the world.. to my first Macbook in 2010.  And it was the ability to dual-boot Windows and OSX that finally got me to the jump the ship.  Like many I was put off by the price of the Mac, but EVEN IF I was a Windows-only guy.  Now that I know better.. I'd still buy Macbooks for their superior hardware design, features & build quality.


     


    About 6 months before I bought my first Mac, I'd bought an $700 HP laptop that looked like an MBP.  Smart Me (atleast I thought so at the time).  I had the Macbook look, but with the HP price.  Thats until I used the damn thing.  And here were my complaints:


    Screen sucked.  Brightness control Sucked.  Trackpad really really really sucked.  (Seriously.. HP's have the worst trackpad I've ever used.  Speakers sucked. (They were so quiet, I had to hold my ear to laptop with the volume up to hear clearly).  The laptop got ridiculously hot and the fans were blaring almost all the time.  Way too many flashing lights, unnecessary ports, stickers over it (looked like a race car, instead of a notebook).  It was thick & heavy.  The battery lasted about 3 hours max.  The charger was big & bulky.  


     


    I could go on & on but you get the point.  After getting a 2010 MBP 13", heres what I noticed almost immediately (keep in mind, this is just hardware diff.. not talking about OSX):


    * It was thin & lightweight!!  I immediately fell in love with the sleek, contemporary design.  The screen hinge was incredibly strong & stable.  It remained that way for the entire year I owned it.


    * I loved the trayless DVD burner.  Why would anyone go back to using a tray, after this experience.  Nothing to break and a much more classy design.


    * The magnetic power connector is a god-send.  I cannot tell you many connectors or power ports I have ruined, simply because I've tripped over the cable or mishandled the notebook.  So many have broken or developed a wiggle/short due to my abuse.  It also has a tiny led that is green when the laptop is charged up, and orange when charging.  No more guessing when the battery is at 100%, or needing to open the lid and check the software to see when its charged up.


    * It ran cool & calm.  OMG.. I could actually sit this thing on my lap and use it without bbq-ing my legs.  I could never do that in the past.  This was my first real "lap-top" computer!!


    * The Apple keyboard & trackpad are the best in the mobile computing business.  This isnt an opinion.  Its a fact.  Look at how every other company has copied the chick-let keyboard and simple keyboard layout.  The glass trackpad is a smooth as can be.  Im telling you it gets no better than this!


    * No blinking spaceship lights.  No stupid NASCAR stickers all the computer.  And only the ports you use most.  When is the last time you have used a serial, parallel, PCI-card or VGA port?  When is the last time you've hooked up 4 USB devices to your computer?


    * The buttons to adjust the screen & keyboard work from 0 to 100%.  Do you know how awesome it is, to have the computer on.. but instantly turn the screen and/or backlight keyboard light COMPLETELY off?  To save battery.  Or in a dark room.


    * The aluminum unibody doesnt flex.  I just cant even put into words how this makes the laptop feel like a tank.  Think of it like this.  Ride in a S class Mercedes, then ride in a Honda Civic.  The Macbook felt as solid as a Mercedes.  Plastic laptops or non-unibody laptops feel like a Honda Civic.  You get my point?


     


     


    I'm sure theres some shyt I forgot to right.  But even if Im using Windows only.  I will take the Apple built laptop ANYDAY over a competitors laptop.  Its simply built better, lighter, cooler, and quieter.


     


    People also look it wrong.  People go to buy a laptop and say.. "Hey.. I can get this Dell for $200 cheaper than this comparable Macbook".  Im sorry but if you will use the computer everyday, like I do, its the wrong way to look at it.  This is a device you will be using almost daily for next 1-3 years.  Break that $200 down, per day on a 2 year basis.  Is it really worth saving 27 cents a day.. to deal with the shyt above that I wrote with.  27 cents?  Talk to me in a year and let me know how that 27 cents a day savings worked out.

  • Reply 15 of 45
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,166member
    kyrra wrote: »
    A lot of people are used to and like Windows, these people aren't as willing to take the dive into a OSX machine, especially if they have to sacrifice some of the apps they use daily.

    That will always be true. But Apple has the advantage of having a small marketshare. They aren't interested in that 92% that Microsoft still has, though it's shrinking. So if Apple can pick up another 6% worldwide, over the next three or four years, they will still be at 12%. That means that many Windows users don't have to move to Apple for them to continue their great success in growing Mac sales, which have outgrown Windows computer sales for more than 24 consecutive quarters.

    So Apple doesn't need those who are so happy with Windows for whatever reason, that they don't want to switch. But Microsoft has to worry about it, as they are the company losing customers and marketshare.

    The other problem for Microsoft OEM's is that Apple's Mac sales take 90% of the $1,000 and above computer sales (not including servers and workstations, or course). That is the most profitable portion of computer sales.

    We now see that the laughed at all in one iMac has made a new category of computer which is now the most popular of all desktops among all computer manufacturers. So most manufacturers have a line of all in ones, which top their desktop sales.

    This is why they are trying to duplicate the Air with the Ultrabook. They see another new category from apple which has become popular. But they're confused about it. They want the higher pricing they think they can get over the now $350 to $600 that most new notebooks sell for, but they want it cheaper than Apple's Air, so they'll have a competitive advantage. The problem is that they need higher priced computers so that they can maintain some decent profitability, But they know that if they are priced the same or higher as Apple's products, people will just buy an Apple product.

    A problem for them is that now, moving off their OS is easier than ever, and more people are doing it. Apple products are no longer for the "fanboy".

    They're stuck between a rock and a hard place.
  • Reply 16 of 45
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,404member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by melgross View Post





    They're talking about comparable machines. One can always find cheaper machines that aren't equal in either build quality or internals. One of the problems third parties have expressed it that they can't make a comparable machine with a machined case as Apple has. They're going to cheaper materials instead, and that's noticeable, according to several hands on reports. They're also going to cheaper displays, slower processors, etc.


    Asus used an IPS display in one of theirs. That's something that would be a nice improvement, even if they aren't bad at all for TN displays. I think enough people would notice, and smaller IPS panels should be cheap enough compared to a few years ago. 

  • Reply 17 of 45
    enzosenzos Posts: 344member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by haar View Post



    well at least this ultrabook format has been discounted (IMO) when sold to universities( u of waterloo).

    I say this because my brother got the ultrabook " to use" because he was presenting at a conference in Israel...

    (my first thought when he told me that he received an ultrabook was why not a macbook air... but the software he has to run was not not on an airbook and i assume dual-booting was not in the cards. BTW the software was a pain to install on the ultrabook.


    Just for reference: the latest CS Chem3D (for quantum mechanical calculations on molecules but on Windas only) opens on the MBA in 15 seconds, including starting VMware, a Win7 virtual machine, and Chem3D.  Having Win7 on board also allows access to Publisher and Access files but apart from that.. The practical speed or nimbleness of the MBA is astonishing even for Windows programs. 

  • Reply 18 of 45
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,166member
    tokenuser wrote: »
    There was a time that when yo did a cost analysis and looked at the benefits of using MacOS vs using Windows, unless you were a graphics professional it made much more sense to go the Windows route than investing in the Apple universe.

    Apple is still a little more expensive in some areas for comparable hardware (MBP type gear), but a little cheaper in others (MBA style Ultrabooks). Unless you are a gamer (and while a Mac can play games quite nicely and an increasing number of games are also released to run natively under OSX) that cost benefit gap has closed right up.

    Why are gamers different? To be honest they aren't much different to people doing video production even at a consumer level, but the options for video cards in the PC world is much greater, and the ability to tweak the maximum FPS out of a FPS (dont you love it when acronyms are the same but mean different things?) on a budget is higher ... but even that gap is closing.

    Unfortunately the idea of the "Apple Tax" is outdated, but still pervasive.

    Can i have my new MBP now?

    Actually, since the days of the old Macs and PC DOS machines through the present, IDC and other companies have made the cost analysis a yearly thing. Always, always, a company using Macs had a higher ROI than one using Microsoft burdened machines. Even in a mixed environment, the numbers say that it's cheaper the more Macs a company has relative to Windows machines.

    The upfront costs of something rarely reflect the actual costs over time.
  • Reply 19 of 45
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,166member
    hmm wrote: »
    Asus used an IPS display in one of theirs. That's something that would be a nice improvement, even if they aren't bad at all for TN displays. I think enough people would notice, and smaller IPS panels should be cheap enough compared to a few years ago. 

    The problem is that TN displays will always be cheaper. As they bring the price of these machines down, their profitability disappears. This is what they're worried about. It's why they tried to get Intel to cut the cost of the chips by half (Intel refused). Apple has such good supply lines, curtesy of Tim Cook, that they get better pricing. Even with the higher cost of the machined cases, Apple manages to bring the price to a reasonable level.

    Then, Apple no doubt, gets better pricing on one of the most expensive components, which is the SSD that comes standard in the base machines. In addition, Apple isn't forced to use some legacy ports that Windows machines must have. That gives them a pricing advantage as well. And of course, Apple is using Thunderbolt. Other manufacturers are just now beginning to look at that.
  • Reply 20 of 45

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Kyrra View Post


    A lot of people are used to and like Windows, these people aren't as willing to take the dive into a OSX machine, especially if they have to sacrifice some of the apps they use daily.





    Indeed, that quote about users "going for the best" to buy an Apple over a Win machine was pretty biased.  Windows 7 is pretty capable, and developing for MS Access is simplicity itself.

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