Taiwan pub steadily criticizes Intel's Ultrabook

DigiTimes has been running a stream of articles critical of Intel's Ultrabook strategy. The complaints are originating from the region's hardware suppliers, according to the publication.

A Taipei-based technology news site has been publishing a steady stream of flak centered on Intel's Ultrabook laptop strategy. Intel counters, however, that this is little more than rumor and speculation.

Over the last week or so, DigiTimes has been offering up almost a daily dose of grievances, seemingly emanating from that region's suppliers, including ODMs (original design manufacturers) and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers).

For example, on its front door as of Tuesday night PT, the publication has three articles critical of Intel's Ultrabook strategy.

The Ultrabook is defined roughly as an ultraportable laptop under 0.8 inches in thickness that is equipped with Intel's most power-efficient Sandy Bridge processors. The Toshiba Portege Z830 stands as one of the best examples to date.

A future Foxconn Ivy Bridge-based Ultrabook shown at the Intel Developer Forum last week.
A future Foxconn Ivy Bridge-based Ultrabook shown at the Intel Developer Forum last week. Brooke Crothers

One DigiTimes post titled "Ultrabook platform may not benefit ODMs" claims that profits will be less than standard laptop designs, offering an average profit of only "US$5-10 to notebook ODMs, 50% lower than the average of US$10-20 for traditional notebooks."

Another article titled "Intel downstream partners request CPU price drop" calls for Intel to reduce the price of its processors so OEMs can sell Ultrabooks for prices below the $1,000 mark. In the article, Ray Chen, president of Compal Electronics, a major ODM, offers up a dire-sounding warning, claiming that if Ultrabooks suffer from weak sales, Apple will take up the slack and profit at Wintel's (Windows-Intel) expense.

Apple already has a design analogous to the Ultrabook in the MacBook Air, which has been gaining in popularity. But that's not necessarily a problem for Intel, as Apples uses Intel's Sandy Bridge processors across its MacBook line.

A third article titled "Consumers may still have difficulty accepting ultrabook pricing" claims that Ultrabooks "may not earn favor from consumers because average prices are still about 30% higher than those of mainstream notebooks."

Intel believes Ultrabooks can take as much as 40 percent of the laptop market in 2012, a lofty goal that demonstrates how serious Intel is about the Ultrabook. To that end, Intel has created a $300 million Ultrabook fund to invest in companies building hardware and software technologies focused on Ultrabooks.

A spokesperson for Intel said the company doesn't comment on rumor and speculation, "which is primarily what DigiTimes is in the business of publishing."

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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