Ultrabooks Suck, Customers Only Want The MacBook Air

Ultrabooks Suck, Customers Only Want The MacBook Air

When we were at CES this year, Intel and other PC makers were absolutely insane about ultrabooks, the new ultra-slim, ultra-portable form factor that they thought was going to save them from Apple’s one-two punch of the iPad and MacBook Air.

We were skeptical ultrabooks could make a dent against the Air, and looks like we were right: JPMorgan analyst Mike Moskowitz has just sent out a new note to clients, downplaying the impact of ultrabooks on the MacBook Air’s success. Ultrabooks, he says, are a dud.

According to Moskowitz, Windows-based ultrabooks are “more of the same” from imagination bereft PC makers who can only emulate the results of Apple’s success, not the mindset that led to it. The emulation was also ironic, given that PC makers initially sniffed at the MacBook Air as a fad.

Unfortunately, now that PC makers are trying to emulate the Air, they are now competing with Apple on their home turf. An ultrabook is defined by solid-state drives, low-voltage but fast processors, and cases made of higher-quality materials like aluminum, carbon fiber, or fiberglass… and Apple’s got major deals in place to guarantee themselves the lowest prices on all of those materials.

What this means is that most PC makers can’t meaningfully undermine the MacBook Air’s price. And if ultrabook makers can’t beat the MacBook Air in price, what’s the bloody point in buying anything but an Air?

That’s a good question, and it’s why Moskowitz is pessimistic that Intel will even come close to nabbing its hoped-for ratio of 40% of all notebooks sold being ultrabooks by 2013. With laptop sales plummeting, any hopes that ultrabooks will jumpstart PC sales again will have to wait until later in the year, or worse, 2013. By that time, the MacBook Air’s lead will be all but unsurmountable.

Related
  • iAidan

    Its funny because most ultra books are thinner, faster and better then the macbook air. Many are nicely designed aswell. The funnest thing is that the macbook air is an ultra book.

  • FriarNurgle

    Indeed. 

  • markrlangston

    While the presentation was anything short of spectacular — watching Jobs pull out the Air from a manilla envelope — the initial price of the Air was insane. $1,800 with no network port or optical drive? Really!!? 

    Fast-forward a few years and now it’s one of the most coveted pieces of technology on the planet, next to the iPad. 

    As for the imagination bereft competition, there clear sign that they’ve gone McDowell’s is by the very nature of their classification. I’m not suggesting Apple owns the term “books” when it comes to laptops but that fact that they’re called “ultrabooks”, obviously derived from “MacBook”, is evidence enough that Apple is leading and defining the market. 

    And you can’t forget about OS X having an effect on the success of the Air. It’s certainly not hardware alone. People are also enjoying the experience they’re having with those pretty Apple machines. 

  • Srose428

    If you can not beat the Air on price, well then what are Windows Ultra books going for, better user experience??  Not a chance and I am glad financial analysts realize it.  This would be like trying to sell me a 7 series BMW with a go-kart interior.  Looks great to everyone on the out side…

  • Luis Dominguez

    Are you referencing “Coming To America” with the Mcdowell’s thing???
    If so, I love it, hahaha.

  • matteosister

    you can always remove windows and install linux! You got a great hardware and the best o.s. at a reasonable price.

  • Jimjar

    Can you give me a couple of examples of these ?  I have a MacBook 2011 Air 11″ and I have yet to see anything ‘thinner, faster, and better’. 

  • kcopen

    What HASN’T the PC world copied from Apple?

  • supertino

    How is Linux the best OS and Mac not?

  • matteosister

    Mainly because mac os is just a linux distro…sleek but too fashion-centric and close for me. And it lacks a unified software repository.

  • Aaron

    As an avid Mac and Linux user (and Windows hater), I completely agree with you. Windows is the weak link here. Even Ubuntu is approaching Apple’s UI polish and usability. 

  • supertino

    What is “closed” in Mac for your day to day needs? And isn’t the Mac app store a unified software repository? Maybe it’s not the best OS for you… but I would argue it’s the best OS. Period.

  • Aaron

    @iAidan:disqus  [citation needed]
    Most ultrabooks are the same thickness, or slightly thicker than an Air. Intel’s definition of an UltraBook is one that is 25mm thick or less. The Air is 17mm thick.

    Faster UltraBooks than the Air? Check out PCWorld’s comparisons of current UltraBooks. The Air, booted into Windows mode, is significantly faster than ANY of the current Windows UltraBooks. 

    Yes, the Air is an UltraBook, but it was created BEFORE Intel defined what it was to be an UltraBook. Where do you think Intel came up with the specs to target?

    There are some less-expensive UltraBooks out there. For example, Lenovo makes a nice one that’s about $120 cheaper. They did, however, have to make some sacrifices to even get close to Apple’s price. They left out the backlit keyboard, the Thunderbolt port, and have a trackpad that doesn’t work as well as the Air’s (according to reviews on The Register). Oh, and they use a standard hard drive instead of an SSD. 

    Bottom line: You get what you pay for.

  • Peter Dudycz

    You can put windows on a Macbook air. Also, Microcenter was/is selling last generation macbook airs for cheap. Or wait for the refresh coming soon.

  • CaveMan5464

    Exactly. Even leaving out better. Just any ultrabook that is thinner & faster. Seriously, I want to see one ultrabook clock in faster.

  • Bob Whipple

    I would consider one of the Ultrabooks only if I was a heavy Windows user. When using Safari, the Air is equal or superior to Utrabooks in almost every way…. speed, thickness, weight, screen resolution, trackpad performance… and price. 

    But if you use Windows… you have to factor in the price of buying Windows and Parallels… which raises the price by about $160? Plus using Parallels on the Air knocks down battery life by almost 40%. So what is 7 hour battery life using Safari becomes four hour battery life using Windows on the Air.

  • iAidan

    http://www.lenovo.com/products… thinner then the mac book airs thickest point, faster, and i have to say it looks better.

  • iAidan

    The mac book air is shit for windows, 16-64gb space is not enough considering you need 30gb to install windows, dumb ass.

  • Peter Dudycz

    Buy Windows OEM for cheaper, also You can use bootcamp, it is free. Also, Parallels and VMWare fusion sometimes has discount sales.

  • Jamoche

    Windows 7 installs in 12GB.

  • Mike Rathjen

    In my opinion, both “Ultrabooks” and “MacBook” were obviously derived from “Notebook”, a common name for smallish laptops.

  • Mike Rathjen

    My PC runs Windows 7 Home Premium just fine on an Intel 60GB SSD, and there is plenty of space left for applications.

  • haineux

    To be very clear, you don’t have to use Parallels. You can use BootCamp. This is a free thing from Apple, that lets you choose to boot Windows, or Mac. No speed penalty.

    You still have to get a copy of Windows.

  • mitchell.farmer.1997

    (facepalm) Mac OS X is not a Linux distro. Apart from being UNIX-based, it has no further affiliation to anything Linux or otherwise.

  • Adrian Werner

    To be honest, PC notebooks sales are still growing double digits each year (even in 2011 despite the HD shortages), so ultrabooks seems like tryign to find a cure for disease that doesn’t exist.

  • laytoncy

    One of the problems that I see with most “ultrabooks” is they can’t match the weight or weigh less than an Air.  I’m in the market for an “ultrabook” and as of now my family is a Windows family except for our iPhones.  From doing as much research as possible it looks that the Air is the best bang for your buck and I can install Windows on it if I want.

  • tcervo

    OS X is a fully certified UNIX operating system. It’s not Linux…It’s also loaded with open source (comes standard with Apache, MySQL, PHP, Ruby, the various UNIX goodies, etc.) 

    How’s this for open?: http://www.opengroup.org/openb

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)| Read more posts by .

Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , |