MacBook win, ultrabook fail: Numbers not good, says analyst

Apple continues to fend off the ultrabook challenge, with shipments of the thin and light Windows laptops significantly below what Intel had hoped for, an analyst tells CNET.

The HP Envy 14 Spectre premium ultrabook starts around $1,399 directly from HP. PC markers don't fare well at all competing with Apple at the high end of the market, says an IDC analyst.
The HP Envy 14 Spectre premium ultrabook starts around $1,399 directly from HP. PC markers don't fare well at all competing with Apple at the high end of the market, says an IDC analyst. Brooke Crothers

Ultrabook numbers will fall far short of Intel's aggressive market share targets, an IDC analyst told CNET. The MacBook Air, meanwhile, continues to coast amid continued popularity.

An IDC report today showed a weak PC market caught in its seventh consecutive quarter of little to no growth.

"The volume isn't there and it's going to be way below what Intel had hoped for," IDC analyst Jay Chou told CNET, referring to ultrabooks.

"The first half [of 2012] is about 500,000 ultrabooks shipped worldwide. It's nowhere near Intel's initial hope," Chou said. Ultrabooks are thin, lightweight Windows laptops that compete with Apple's MacBook Air.

Apple MacBook Air.
Apple MacBook Air. Apple

Intel had said at the beginning of the year that ultrabooks could take 40 percent of the consumer laptop market.

"We might hit a million [ultrabooks] this year. The future really lies in 2013 and how well it jells with Windows 8," Chou added.

IDC expects about 225 million laptops to ship by the end of 2012. So, a million would be a tiny fraction of that market.

"The MacBook Air is a good part of Apple's business. It's had good growth," Chou said.

Unit shipments of Apple's MacBooks were up in the most recent reported quarter (Q2) to about 2.8 million (PDF) compared with 2.75 million in the same quarter last year.

Why the ultrabook shortfall? "A lot more models have to hit that $700 spot and they need a more lightweight and faster responding OS like Windows 8," according to Chou.

And it's hard to make inroads into a market that Apple practically invented. "They [Apple] really know how to magnify their strength. PCs typically out-spec them. But it's really just saying I have a bigger engine," which doesn't resonate with as many customers as before, he said.

Intel declined to comment.

Updated on July 12 at 1:00 a.m. PDT: clarifies Apple market share.

Updated on July 17 at 10:50 a.m. PDT: IDC's Jay Chou later retracted the numbers he gave (500,000 in the first half of 2012 and 1 million for the whole year). Chou said those numbers are not final and therefore may be inaccurate and possibly too low.

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About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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