IDF Preview: Can UltraBooks Save the PC Industry?

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Ultimately the PC industry doesn’t need saving. PC’s are not going away. The problem is that most of the consumer interest and mindshare with PC’s lies with Apple. Are UltraBooks the answer and can they inject life back into the non-Apple side of the PC industry?

This is what we hope to find out at this week’s IDF. From what I’ve seen so far with UltraBooks, they still have a long way to go design-wise if anyone hopes to set one next to a MacBook Air and sway a customer. The design and experience with the MacBook Air is still superior to any UltraBook I’ve seen thus far.

(MORE: Acer MacBook Air Competitor Leaked with Sub-$800 Starting Price?)

Hardware manufacturers, if they want to differentiate their UltraBooks from Apple’s MacBook Air, are going to need to step up their vision and design efforts. I fully expect to see a great deal of experimentation in UltraBook hardware design. We will most likely see UltraBooks that function more like tablets and have a detachable keyboard, perhaps like the Asus Transformer.

This kind of hardware experimentation is encouraging and I’m excited to see what new UltraBook hardware gets released this week at IDF. The challenge for UltraBook makers will be pricing their new hardware under the $1,000 mark that Intel has set as a goal. Toshiba’s new UltraBook starts at $999, but I’m skeptical that all UltraBooks will hit that low a price point.

I’m glad, for the sake of the industry and for consumers, that the challenge to create new and innovative hardware has been laid out with Intel’s new UltraBook campaign. Now we’ll just have to wait and see who steps up to the plate to innovate and differentiate themselves from the pack.

MORE: The Race to Beat the MacBook Air Is On

Ben Bajarin is the Director of Consumer Technology Analysis and Research at Creative Strategies, Inc, a technology industry analysis and market intelligence firm located in Silicon Valley.

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