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Smarter pricing sought to up ultrabooks share

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:PC shipment? ultrabook market? HDD supply?

According to DRAMeXchange, a research unit of TrendForce Corp., Q1 PC shipments fell by 5.3 percent QoQ. This is attributed to the traditionally weak first quarter and the HDD supply shortage, in addition to the decreased number of business days due to Chinese New Year. As a result, January PC shipment volume was only about 22 million units, a monthly drop of 11.4 percent.

After February, with the continual HDD recovery and the unveiling of Intel's new Ivy Bridge platform, shipment volume should gradually increase, predicted DRAMeXchange. Therefore, Q2 shipment growth is forecasted at 10.8 percent QoQ. From the market perspective, ultrabooks and Windows 8 are expected to provide momentum for PC growth this year. With the back-to-school effect in June, the holiday season in 2H12, and the potential wave of commercial upgrades (commercial upgrades have not occurred on a large scale since the financial crisis in 2008), PC growth is forecasted at 5.4 percent for the year.

Affordable ultrabooks to boost PC growth this year
Intel introduced the ultrabook concept in June, introducing consumers to a new computing experience with thinner, lighter form factor, longer use times, and faster boot and connection features (AOACAlways On, Always Connected). In 4Q11, ASUS, Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba introduced ultrabook products, but all price tags exceeded $1000. In comparison to standard notebooks' average retail price of $680, not to mention Apple's similarly priced Macbook Air, the ultrabook models were unable to attract consumers. Ultrabook market share was a just two percent last year.

As Intel's management of the supply chain enables cost reduction this year, ultrabook retail price will likely be driven down below $800, or even $700. New models will continue to hit the market in 2H12 that should stimulate purchases. Looking at price, standard notebook ASP is around $650 this year. Thus, ultrabook price needs to dip below $700, as a $50 price gap would be acceptable to consumers. At such a price point, the new models would be about $300 cheaper than the most basic MacBook Air model, which would attract price-guided consumers, as system performance is similar. Therefore, TrendForce expects the PC market will benefit, and the notebook shipment 1H:2H ratio is estimated at 45:55. Ultrabook shipment volume is forecasted at 20 million units, a significant increase from last year. As for next year, 55 million ultrabook shipments are projected, putting market share at 25 percent. Ultrabooks are hoped to be able to take over standard notebooks and provide support for PC market growth.

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