Things might not be particularly rosy for the Windows-based PC sector, but there is a bright spot: Ultrabooks, light computers using specially designed chips from Intel.
According to The NPD Group, Ultrabooks accounted for 11% of Windows-based notebook computers costing more than $700 at retail during the first 5 months of 2012. Such consumer interest was a silver lining on some bad news, showing that overall notebook sales dropped 17% from last year. In the premium price-point of devices costing more than $700, however, sales only fell 3%.
“Within the context of the price-point, Ultrabooks are doing well,” Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for NPD, tells Marketing Daily. “But there’s a limited marketplace for PCs that expensive.”
According to NPD, the average price of an Ultrabook was $927, high compared with the average $510 price of a typical Windows-based PC. While prices of the Ultrabooks may never fall into the bargain basement range among PCs, discounting and expectations that some devices may be available below $700 in time for back-to-school shopping this year could goose sales even more this year, Baker says.
“It takes time to change habits. You need critical mass in terms of brands, SKUs, advertising and merchandising,” he says. “What you’ll see in the next six months is a price and value proposition.”
As for the overall PC category, one might think all of the tablet activity would be cutting into PC sales. But Baker says that’s not the case. “In all of the data, there’s little correlation between the declines of PCs and the growth of tablets,” he says. “[But] it’s likely some people are not upgrading as fast as they might have done in the past.”