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Old 8th Jun 2011, 07:31   #1
arcticstoat
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Intel's 'Ultrabook' Strategy is Outdated

While it’s good news for customers that Intel is aiming to make superportable laptops that rival the MacBook Air affordable for many, via its ‘ultrabook’ project, it shows a slightly outdated mode of thinking. When asked what would make superportable laptops successful, Intel’s executive vice-president Sean Maloney replied that a low price would do it. Low price = more sales = more profit, the conventional wisdom goes. Or does it?

http://www.bit-tech.net/blog/2011/06...tegy-outdated/
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 07:43   #2
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True though: price is the first thing customers bitch about. The second thing would be battery life. Battery life rules all. Your shiny portable toy may be ever so light and compact, but that mobility is made pointless by a need to tether yourself to the nearest socket every 3 hours.

Paul Thurrot predicted that tablet devices would upgrade to full PC functionality, while PCs would come down to meet them in user-friendliness, and that this as the philosophy behind Windows 8. Ultrabooks are an evolutionary step in that process.
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 07:56   #3
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My Windows laptop is a Macbook Air 13" (second gen). The oddness of the keyboard layout is a minor inconvenience, but the weight isn't quite as good as my old Toshiba Portege; despite being 2 years newer, not having a DVD drive, it's only slightly faster and perhaps 50% more battery life. It does, however, have a much better graphics processor and supports more memory. I have mine with the SSD and 4GB options.

Point being, if I could have bought a plastic machine that weighed less, but still had the SSD, memory, faster CPU, and an ethernet port (wifi just doesn't cut it when you want to copy some movies before a trip), I would have been perfectly happy to give the Mac a miss.

(Of course, I also needed a Mac because it's new target OS for my company's software, so I needed it there for testing, but I could have made do with a Mac Mini on the end of a ssh connection.)
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 08:01   #4
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PS: about Apple being profitable; iPhones are 60% of Apple's revenue. Apple is a consumer electronics company with a computer side-business. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple increasingly dumbs down most of their hardware lineup, so that they turn into hinged iPads with keyboards, and no root access. They'll need a line of machines for developers, but they'll probably be a high-priced exception.
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 08:34   #5
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Surely profitability is an indicator of producing fairly unique products that captures the imagination of the buying public? I'm not an Apple fan, but their approach seems to be make the product desirable and they will pay. Looking for new form factors should be based on the customers need/want, not on the company's desire for profit. I use android phones, but don't see the need to buy an android tablet - yet the iPad 2 makes sense because of its ecosystem - and the sales figures show that to be true - the new announcements add additional functionality and further increase the advantage over rivals.

Perhaps a tablet, with a slide out keyboard?
A tablet that acts as a wireless controller to a static PC (oh, Wii U)
A tablet where you can take out a small piece and it can be a phone...
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 08:37   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo View Post
True though: price is the first thing customers bitch about. The second thing would be battery life. Battery life rules all. Your shiny portable toy may be ever so light and compact, but that mobility is made pointless by a need to tether yourself to the nearest socket every 3 hours.
This.

Overwhelmingly the major consumer markets demand lightness and ever more cheapness. This means plastics and more money put into high power batteries. Mobile phones can get away with it because they are subsidised and the amount of material they use is minimal compared to a laptop. What you pay for is engineering cost for minaturisation, which is a fixed factor - not like a block of aluminium.

Apple's model also works because of the services and OS it has in place to back it up, not just the hardware. Would the iPod have been such as massive hit without iTunes? Would Mac's just be pretty PCs without OSX?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonyd223 View Post
Perhaps a tablet, with a slide out keyboard?.
Done! It's out this month. It's called the Eee Pad Slider.

Also love to Clive for his UX link <3<3
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 09:40   #7
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I think one of the reason why Apple has done so well is that they have such a large following. Some people did a study scanning peoples brains and found that largely a lot of people that bought Apple stuff showed a similar brain pattern to people that were religious.

I would never by any Apple product as they're rediculously overpriced, and at the end of the day a mac is just a PC hardware with different software.
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 10:33   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warejon9
I think one of the reason why Apple has done so well is that they have such a large following.
So they are popular because they're popular? Thanks for clearing that one up. Why do apple fan's love apple? Because they're bloody good that's why.

Quote:
Originally Posted by warejon9
I would never by any Apple product as they're ridiculously overpriced, and at the end of the day a mac is just a PC hardware with different software.
First up, they're not overpriced, they're just premium products, apple doesn't do budget gear. If you want a creaky piece of plastic subsidised by tons of bloatware then yes a PC with a similar CPU, GPU, RAM etc will cost less. Nothing wrong with going that route, but if you want premium gear then apple's a good option.

Also, say you want a top spec 10" tablet, the low cost option is actually an iPad 2.

You say they're PC Hardware with different software? By hardware I assume you mean CPU, GPU & RAM? Then yes they share technology, but it's the implementation with software that apple do well. And you mention software as if it's irrelevant. Apple software is cheaper than that from MS - from the free / dirt cheap development tools to the office apps.

You ever bought a new boxed PC? How long did it take to get it the way you wanted? Uninstall all their crap, re-install all the stuff you need. Update the drivers as they shipped out of date crap, found a decent anti-virus package etc. Maybe even do a clean install? People who know PCs do this all the time, but you don't need to do that on a Mac. Really you don't.

Don't get me wrong, I've still got my PC. If I want to play decent games at a decent spec then my i7 rig can still boot into Windows 7. But for everything else I've now switched over to Apple (You guessed that right!). Phone, Laptop, Tablet... The last thing to switch was the i7 rig changing to a hackintosh beast at default.

Only thing more annoying that apple fans like me is apple haters.
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 10:39   #9
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why apple is doing so well is simple. they develop hardware in line with their software, simply said, they know what they're doing on both hw and sw. that's why they're so good and offer better user experience. where microsoft is working on sw and then you have hundreds of manufacturers who are competing between themselves and trying to differentiate one from another meaning you have more hw variations. SW simply isn't tightly built to run on all hw.

that's huge difference. out of all mac os running computers apple sold, 75% are laptops therefore their sw engineers make sure that os runs flawlessly on laptop and that's how it is. you don't get any sort of slowness or anything like that on a laptop, even if it's 11" Air.

Yes, I'm a mac user but not a blind one, i've done fair deal of research and been running hackintosh for over 6 months before i decided to switch completely.

And i'm not looking back, can't, user experience of apple products/sw isn't matched.

first time i reinstalled system was when i upgraded to ssd - that was after almost 2 years - i've never ever before had that luxury to run win in stable state for as long and was reinstalling roughly every 3 months.

So it's that firm connection between hw and sw - that's what makes apple's excellent user experience.

it's not about tech specs - those are irrelevant, what is relevant is user experience and simply mac allows you to forget you're working on a piece of hw and using os - nope, you're completely focused on what you're doing, whether it's a game, development, reading, mixing music, anything. system and hw doesn't get in the way - and that's what user experience should be about, to get done what you need done as soon as you can without any hw/sw related problems.
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 11:04   #10
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If you want to make a computer as popular as a Mac it needs the following things:

1) Keyboard and touchpad that are easy to use without mistakes or corrections (Mac touchpads have been especially good for a long time)
2) Matte screen (FFS!)
3) Good battery life and perfectly reliable sleep and hibernation modes (the latter two being the dodgy point on many PC laptops)
4) "Enough" power and storage space (Macbook Air = perfect example)
5) No driver issues or per-vendor customization issues. Ever.

Because Apple can integrate the hardware and operating system more closely than any Windows box maker ever could, they can make power management and driver integration something you just take for granted and don't notice anymore. True, their drivers don't have the best performance in the world most of the time, but switching back to an Acer laptop from a Powerbook G4 after a few years, that's when that indefinable Apple edge suddenly gets quantified in very specific ways as the rough edges around things that used to just work make their presence felt.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not an Apple Cultist (those people scare the bejesus outta me) and Mac laptops aren't perfect (UK keyboard layout is lazy and what is it with those frickin' gloss screens!!!!! ARGH!) but I just can't see any Wintel box ever catching up to Apple in terms of usability, and that's why people buy Apple (and why many other people fail to understand why people buy Apple)
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 11:19   #11
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Can we please get away from Mac vs PC discussions and back onto the original point, which was:

desirability = profit (ie success) while cheapness doesn't; therefore why is Intel saying that the key aspect of its 'ultrabook' project is a low cost? Is Intel out of touch?
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 11:28   #12
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I understand your point @Claave - but Apple v PC is a great illustration. Cheaper pc's mean more pc's sold to users who would not normally want or feel they need a pc - non-techies, who just want to do a task, not have to fight an OS or the limitations of the compromised machine they bought. Maybe the Chrome OS model will deliver a better user experience. As for Intel - they make most of their money from chip sales so they don't actualy care if you granny buys a cheap machine that she can't use - just that they can sell shed-loads of chips.

Cheapest PC in the UK - it's a phone with a subsidised contract, and Intel are just waking up to that potential.
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 11:33   #13
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PC market does just fine making cheaper versions of mac products (which often are just cheaper - they can be just as well made). However the MacBook air was never that popular to start with - you don't hear about it at all these days. Equally there were PC variants of it, and they didn't sell that well either.

Intel isn't bringing anything new really - this product only exists because they can't make a cpu low powered enough to go in a tablet (the thing that is selling well). I doubt it'll go anywhere.
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 11:36   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere View Post
First up, they're not overpriced, they're just premium products, apple doesn't do budget gear. If you want a creaky piece of plastic subsidised by tons of bloatware then yes a PC with a similar CPU, GPU, RAM etc will cost less. Nothing wrong with going that route, but if you want premium gear then apple's a good option.

So Apple DO charge more for the same hardware? That's what you've just said.
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 11:50   #15
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As I see it, a PC is a PC is a PC. Mesh struggled because, in the end, it's just another "beige box shifter". Acer struggle because, while some of their products are "desirable" they simply don't have the marketing department and power than Apple have built up. In my experience, their abysmal Customer Support doesn't help either.

Desirability is all down to marketing. You tell everyone that 'x' is the hottest new gadget they absolutely must have, you get adverts everywhere telling them, you get journalists telling them, you get the "trendies" looking down on people who don't have something... and everyone will go mad for it.

It's a label, essentially. Like designer jeans costing £80+ that are exactly the same as non-brand jobs that sell for a fiver but don't have that all important 'brand' label stitched on the back pocket. Convince everyone that label is desirable and those swayed by that sort of thing will sell their souls for it.

...

Saying cheapness doesn't equal profit doesn't necessarily work, either; on the PC 'cheapness' front I think the issue is that there are, literally, hundreds of companies building PCs to the lowest price possible. There's only one Apple, because they've locked down their territory and fight viciously to guard it. Imagine if IBM had done that back when everything was "IBM Compatible" - there would likely be two PC electronics firms in the world: IBM and Motorola.
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 11:55   #16
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Mesh failed because of the way the market is geared towards the big 5. I used to work for Maxdata - another also ran but who were in 11 countries across europe. They just weren't able to buy at the same price as the big 5, just had to sell their products cheaper to entice a business market that didn't really care. Mesh had to spend lots on marketing a brand - adverts in every magazine, etc, but just wasn't getting the return in volume sales.

I think - I didn't work for Mesh!
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 11:59   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DbD
... However the MacBook air was never that popular to start with - you don't hear about it at all these days....
most of laptops they sell are Airs - the new ones
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 12:01   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flanananagan
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere View Post
First up, they're not overpriced, they're just premium products, apple doesn't do budget gear. If you want a creaky piece of plastic subsidised by tons of bloatware then yes a PC with a similar CPU, GPU, RAM etc will cost less. Nothing wrong with going that route, but if you want premium gear then apple's a good option.

So Apple DO charge more for the same hardware? That's what you've just said.
nope, they don't. just went through this yesterday with my friend - cheapest 27" iMac vs alternative based on same/similar components:

Apple price: £1399
Equivalent built from parts (Mini ITX): £1626

not talking about the mess with cables, need to build it yourself and so on...
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 12:04   #19
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Mmmm. So, what does the future hold? Tablets to replace the cheap home laptop or desktop (with onlive for gaming) and "proper", premium computers just for professionals/enthusiasts?
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Old 8th Jun 2011, 12:15   #20
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Originally Posted by Ergath
Mmmm. So, what does the future hold? Tablets to replace the cheap home laptop or desktop (with onlive for gaming) and "proper", premium computers just for professionals/enthusiasts?
the way i see it is more about what you want to do. i don't think we will have a pc a tablet or a phone with different os

what i believe we'll have is just one os which handles all devices and they'll be all up to date (like apple presented with their iCloud offering) and you will just use a device which suits your current needs and situation - more like a terminal or screen you use to get done what you need done.

i guess aim will be to make system as transparent as possible and focus on experience and productivity - no matter what device you use
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