Intel's New Strategy to Take on Apple's MacBook Air
More than one year ago, Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) announced that it would take on Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) creative MacBook Air concept by building processors that were specially created for thin, lightweight laptops. This led to the birth of a new, trademarked brand of computers known as Ultrabooks.
While expectations were high for these new machines, Ultrabooks have not performed well at retail. Last October iSuppli released a report stating that it had slashed its forecast after pricing and marketing proved to be a disappointment.
According to DigiTimes, Intel has a new strategy that it hopes will turn things around: it will require all Haswell Ultrabooks to be equipped with a touch screen.
Designed as the successor to its current line of processors (known as Ivy Bridge), Haswell CPUs are expected to be released this June. In a side-by-side comparison, AnandTech found the Haswell GT3e to be comparable to NVIDIA's (NASDAQ: NVDA) GeForce GT 650M.
"Haswell GT3e's performance looked great for processor graphics," Anand Lal Shimpi wrote in his report. "I would assume that overall platform power would be reduced since you wouldn't have a discrete GPU inside, however there's also the question of the cost of the solution.
"I do expect that NVIDIA will continue to drive discrete GPU performance up, but as a solution for some of the thinner/space constrained form factors (think 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, maybe 11-inch Ultrabook/MacBook Air?) Haswell could be a revolutionary step forward."
With so much potential, Windows PC manufacturers could do a lot with Intel's new processor. Raw power is rarely enough to persuade consumers to make a purchase, however, which could explain the new touch screen requirement. If true, it could unintentionally increase the price of new Ultrabooks.
Intel had previously hoped to raise interest and increase Ultrabook sales by lowering the price of its machines to a more reasonable level. Even now, as the prices begin to plummet for older models, consumers have approached the format with a degree of skepticism.
Despite the troubles that Intel has faced, the company is still expected to ship a large volume of Ultrabooks in 2013. In fact, 40 percent of all notebook shipments are expected to fall under the Ultrabook brand.
Of course, not all Ultrabooks use the moniker legitimately. While many are as thin (or thinner) than a MacBook Air, some are noticeably thicker. By applying the Ultrabooks label to even more machines, Intel could achieve its shipment goals a bit more easily.
Touch screens may not do the trick, however. According to DigiTimes, touch screen notebooks will only account for 10 to 15 percent of total shipments by the second half of 2013.
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