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..