Take a look at the titles of the media’s recent coverage regarding Ultrabook shipments in Q2:
- PCWorld: Why Ultrabook Sales Have Flopped So Far
- BGR: Ultrabooks Flop in Q2…
- DigitalTrends: Are Ultrabooks an Epic Failure?
- NYTimes: Some Ultra Disappointments for Computer Makers
A casual observer of the laptop market may have been alarmed. But fortunately, although we at gap intelligence may dress casual, we’re very serious about how we observe and analyze markets. And we’re not getting the full story from the media. First of all, let’s manage expectations a bit (despite the hype). The truth is, Intel launched a premium platform in a down economy. The first Ultrabook arrived in the retail channel in October 2011. Since then, growth has so far been both impressive and linear.
Less than 10 months from their debut, Ultrabooks represent 10.8% of all notebook shelf placements in the US retail channel. The PC space is a mature market and was never going to adopt Ultrabooks as fast as Intel had hoped. The media wanted to see quick results, but Ultrabooks were hardly on shelves for customers to buy during Q2. Those that were, were priced too high. Calling Ultrabooks a flop right now is like blaming a baseball player for not hitting a home run when he hasn’t had a chance at bat. Ultrabooks will get their chance to bat in Q3 and Q4. Acer, HP, Lenovo, and Toshiba have all introduced Ultrabooks for less than $700 this month and you can bet others will follow.
An analyst at IDC, before retracting his statement, told CNET that “about 500,000 ultrabooks shipped worldwide” in the first half of 2012 and speculated that shipments “might hit a million this year.” Even if there truly were only 500K Ultrabooks sold in the first half of the year (note: that seems very low), the back-to-school and Christmas selling seasons both occur during the second half of the year in the US. The half when plenty more models will be available at reasonable prices and consumers are looking to buy. Let’s hold our judgments on the Ultrabook platform until after Q4. Manufacturers have a lot of impressive models on the way and we can be assured that thin and light laptops will represent a significant portion of their product pipelines for years to come.