Acer is talking big as it promises to launch a $499 ultrabook in 2013 to compete against Apple Inc.'s iPad in sales. Acer Global President, Jianren Wen said Tuesday at the CeBIT technology show in technology that ultrabooks will drop in price to just $499 by 2013.
Ultrabook's are ultra-thin notebooks that have some models that have the same functionality of tablets. Intel, which developed the ultrabook line, was showing off ultrabook designs in CeBIT that is a hybrid tablet and laptop with a touchscreen capable of recognizing multitouch gestures. Tablets like Apple's iPad has severely cut into the PC market with a competitive price that's just about made the notebook obsolete. Intel's ultrabook design is largely a strike back against the tablet market but manufacturers have run into cost problems with the new design. Adding a touchscreen to the ultrabook would add manufacturing cost to an already expensive device. In order to cram all the processing power into the ultrabook's vaunted ultra-thin design, vendors have to pay up to $940 in costs.
The device is too expensive that even Acer's boast to drive costs down to $499 could be a far-fetched idea. As much as Acer is prepared to cut prices to compete with tablets like Apple's iPad the company is already having trouble generating profit from its $799 Aspire S3 ultrabook. Speaking to the Verge, Christoph Pohlmann of the Acer laptop unit said that the company is only breaking even with the Aspire S3 and the S3 is only priced on a promotional basis. The current costs of the necessary components and the manufacturing costs for the ultrabooks are prohibitive but it is possible that cheaper components and more efficient production methods could drag the price down but Pohlmann isn't confident that a $499 ultrabook could happen.
A sub-$500 ultrabook is important for Acer and other ultrabook makers because Apple's latest iPad will be priced at $499 for the 16Gb version and ultrabook manufacturers are willing to sell their products at a loss to compete with Apple. However, Acer's big boast isn't so far-fetched since all signs are pointing to a future with ultrabooks merging with tablets in terms of functionality. Falling components could make it possible to see a $499 ultrabook and with the release of Windows 8 which is geared for a touchscreen system, hybrid computers will be the wave of the future. It won't be a choice between a tablet or an ultrabook but rather which manufacturer could provide the best user experience for a tablet/laptop hybrid.
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