Editorial: Will the Ultrabook Drag PC Sales back from Decline?

Ultrabook intel

It has been covered practically everywhere from major technology news websites to smaller blogs that global PC sales are declining, and up until May 2011 there seemed to be no way for the PC market to recover. Sure, Netbook’s gave it a firm boost a couple of years back when they became all the rage, however in their death they opened the path to smartphones and perhaps more importantly the tablet computer.

Smartphones and tablets are designed for media specifically. The proof in the pudding surrounding this is that the main feature of any smartphone (whether it be Android, iOS based or a Blackberry) is apps, or mobile applications as professionals like to call them. The rise of the app led to a new way for individuals to consume and digest online content and communicate with each other with ease, and that coupled to the capacitive touch screen has been a recipe for disaster for the PC.

You see desktop computers and laptops are old tech. They rely on a trackpad or mouse for navigation, they (laptops specifically) are limited in their form by the inclusion of a tactile keyboard, and what’s more they simply aren’t as fun to use as smartphones nor are they as convenient as a tablet computer in bed. I mean, what would you rather do; check recent Google news on an iPad or on a laptop? Chances are, you’d opt for the tablet, unless you needed to do some real work alongside your browsing.

It has been said by many analysts, then, that PC sales are in major decline due to mobile devices and consumers revelling in their portability and convenience. One machine, however, aims to change that and stem the PC’s decline.

I am of course talking about Ultrabooks. The company behind Ultrabooks is Intel, the world’s largest processor manufacturer, however you’ll know them best for the nice little blue sticker glued to your laptops front.

Intel trademarked the name ‘Ultrabook’ back in 2011 and set out to create a new benchmark for ultra-portable laptops with minimum requirements. If a laptop manufacturer created a laptop which met these physical and hardware requirements, that laptop could carry the Ultrabook brand. To read more about exactly what an Ultrabook is, I wrote up an article just for you entitled Just what is an Ultrabook, Anyway?.

In 2o11, this didn’t really mean all that much, for you see the UK in particular is plagued by marketing jargon aimed at convincing consumers that the product they are looking at is amazing, perfect and in every way a must have item. ‘Ultra’, plastered to any product in 2011, sparked very little interest in terms of sales and consumer awareness.

In 2012 however things have developed differently. Now, pretty much every single PC manufacturer has an Ultrabook on the market including Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and Sony. It isn’t just well-known manufacturers joining in either, because both ZaReason and Vizio (even LG!) have created an Ultrabook.

With so many ultra-portables carrying the Ultrabook brand, consumer awareness since 2011 has been raised significantly in 2012 and with the launch of Windows 8 coming in October of this year, Ultrabooks are all set to get a serious marketing push before Christmas and the New Year also.

It’s good brand awareness too. Intel’s guidelines state that Ultrabooks must have SSD storage, USB 3.0, measure certain dimensions (18 mm or less in height for 13.3″ and smaller displays and 21 mm or less in height for 14.0″ and larger displays), and what’s more in the future Intel are going to set out new optional and statuary requirements for Ultrabooks to feature the same sensors as tablet computers. That, coupled with touch-screen Ultrabooks emerging towards the back-end of 2012 just for Windows 8, will ensure that for the first time ever the laptop computer is essentially a tablet with a keyboard glued to it.  Microsofts Surface tablets, for example, rock Windows 8 (both the RT version and full-fat business orientated version).

Ultrabooks then have a very good selling point; they offer the full functionality of a laptop, with the added benefits of a tablet (albeit a bit thicker, however much more powerful). Of course, Ultrabooks aren’t quite at a stage yet where they can be considered as a tablet alternative because sensors and touch-screens + Windows 8 and a solid app market need to come first, however when they do, I’d put money on this; Ultrabook sales will sky rocket during 2013, so long as manufacturers keep up with minimum Intel requirements and exceed them just as The ASUS Zenbook Prime has done in dimensions and display.

This article was written and edited by Jakk Ogden. Jakk owns and runs a number of technology websites, including one on Ultrabook news. He is currently writing about Ultrabooks with optical drives. You can .

Sources on PC decline: Computer Weekly, GCN