As the sales of personal computers slow - whether because of a weak world economy or the popularity of the iPad — PC makers have been looking for the next big thing to jolt buyers and increase profit margins.
They are now taking a sidelong glance at what Apple has done. Shipments by Apple rose roughly 20% in the fourth quarter of 2011, when PC shipments of Hewlett-Packard and Acer, two of the world’s largest PC makers, declined.
Helping to drive Apple’s growth is its MacBook Air, a laptop computer that measures less than an inch thick and weighs under three pounds. In late 2010, Apple reduced the base price of the Air to $1,000, down from its original $1,800 price tag.
So the PC makers introduced—ultrabooks—thin laptop computers built with a new Intel low-power chip and solid-state storage that replaces the bulkier mechanical hard drive, at the International Consumer Electronics Show last week.
Intel had about a dozen Ultrabooks on display in its booth from manufacturers including Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, LG and Asus. And Intel, which holds the ultrabook trademark, expects 70 more notebook designs will arrive in 2012, according to Anand Lakshmanan, Intel’s ultrabook product manager.
Most of the Ultrabooks cost upward of $900, though Intel wants to work with manufacturers to bring the average price down to $700, Lakshmanan said.