Taipei, May 2 (CNA) Chip maker Intel Corp. said Wednesday that thin and lightweight notebook computers, or Ultrabooks, may be priced as low as US$599 in the second half of this year with the adoption of new casing materials.
"It is likely there will be US$599 models in selected regions, but the mainstream price should fall around US$699," said Intel Taiwan's country manager Jason Chen on the sidelines of a press event to discuss Intel's technologies used in cloud computing data centers.
PC vendors have been using more expensive casing materials on Ultrabooks, but prices for this new category of laptops are expected to go down later this year when manufacturers use new and cheaper materials, such as a mixture of plastics and aluminum, he said.
Chen projected that the new models to be launched in the third and fourth quarters will support new functions, such as touch-enabled screens and gesture sensors, which will help drive the overall demand.
He expected Ultrabooks to account for 30 to 40 percent of the global notebook shipments in 2012 thanks to the introduction of lower priced models.
Asked about Acer's comment that the buying of Ultrabooks will be delayed by one or two quarters, Chen said conditions will be different for every region and that he believed the demand is increasing as Intel is promoting the products aggressively.
On April 26, Acer Inc. Chairman and CEO J.T. Wang said marketing efforts of the whole PC industry have been inadequate to drive the popularity of Ultrabooks, delaying the buying of the products by one or two quarters.
Although Acer has reduced its Ultrabook prices to as low as US$799 in selected regions, the price remains too high for consumers compared with a price tag of US$400-US$500 for mainstream notebooks, Wang said.
Acer predicted that Ultrabooks will account for between 12 and 20 percent of the company's total notebook shipments by the end of this year, which will be lower than the 25-35 percent that it forecast earlier because of the delayed buying.
Meanwhile, Asustek Computer Inc. said it plans to roll out a number of new Ultrabooks priced from US$799 to US$1,999 starting in the April-June period, with the company expecting the category to account for 10 to 20 percent of its total notebook shipments this year.
(By Jeffrey Wu)