Pricing was a main deterrent to ultrabook sales last year, Stice says. Early ultrabooks were priced in the $1,000 range. Considering that consumers, many of whom use their devices mostly for web apps, could purchase tablets in the $200 to $500 range, Stice says it simply doesn't make sense for them to pay twice as much for an ultrabook.
Moving into 2013, Stice says ultrabook pricing is beginning to creep down to that competitive level. That's because the past year can serve as a research period for manufacturers, he says. Many of the $1,000 devices were what Stice called "model units" of ultrabooks, and as such they were adorned with "all the bells and whistles."
As manufacturers examine customer feedback and conduct more research on how people are using ultrabooks, they'll be able to reshape the devices and build new ones without some of the more expensive components and parts. This will enable manufacturers to drop the price, Stice says.
In addition to pricing, Stice says PC manufacturers misfired when it came to marketing the devices. While "ultrabook" was an inescapable industry buzzword after the technology received praise at Computex and CES, manufacturers failed to reach the customers who live outside the technology world, Stice says.
This has already started to change, with television commercials introducing the device and its capabilities to mainstream markets. As the ultrabook pushes forward, Intel and PC manufacturers will need to focus on a combination of factors if they're going to successfully convince customers that they're worth buying, Stice says.
Manufacturers would do well to shed some light on their hybrid, or convertible, ultrabooks, which have the best opportunity to appeal to broad markets, Stice says. Those in the market for a notebook computer have most likely come into contact with a touchscreen by this point, or are at least familiar with the benefits of a tablet. However, they've been conditioned to use a QWERTY keyboard for years, and will be more comfortable typing long emails or creating documents in that form factor.
With convertible touchscreen ultrabooks, manufacturers have the opportunity to tell consumers that they don't need to choose between a tablet and a notebook, and can get both with one purchase, Stice says.
Intel appears to have recognized this, scheduling an event at this week's CES 2013 specifically to showcase convertible ultrabooks enabled with touchscreen navigation.