ASUS to Start Ultrabooks at $799, But Won’t Take On Macbook Air

Posted by at 12:26 pm on August 29, 2011

ASUS has managed to crack the ultrabook pricing dilemma but doesn’t expect itself or even the category to significantly challenge the MacBook Air, company CEO Jerry Shen said this weekend. The company would have five or six models like the UX21 ranging from $799 to a high $1,999. These would be high-end for ASUS, however, and would be an intentional relegation of ultrabooks to one fifth of its total notebook production.

The number would amount to about 600,000 of the ultraportables a quarter at most versus the 3.1 million total notebooks ASUS shipped in the spring.

Shen didn’t expect to help meet Intel’s goal of having ultrabooks make up 40 percent of notebooks by the end of 2012. Along with production limits, such as the availability of metal prompted by Apple, Windows PC makers like ASUS were having problems matching up a fast processor with an ultrathin chassis. “There is a heat problem that is very difficult to resolve,” he said.

Shen was convinced the low and middle of the market would need servicing as well to hit the 40 percent market. It was possible, he said, but not until 2013.

Intel conceived of the ultrabook category both to create a Windows-based parallel to the MacBook Air​ as well as to help get away from netbooks. The mini-notebooks have been cannibalized heavily by the iPad and, with ultrabooks, would get some tablet-like responsiveness and longevity. Although it hasn’t mentioned this in public, Intel has also wanted to get away from the Atom-based netbook concept as their very low prices dragged down Intel’s revenue while they were still hot.

To get costs down, Intel has started up a $300 million Ultrabook Fund that should subsidize some of the costs of getting the category started.

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