Ultrabooks and VARs

HP laptop

A flood of new ultrabooks, leveraging Intel design specs, will hit the market in June 2012. These sleek, stylish, powerful, and portable ultrabooks, will be particularly attractive to businesses planning to use ultrabooks as a replacement to desktop machines, especially as more and more employees become mobile.

They are also being touted as the saviour to a declining PC market, under increasing threat from tablet computers and smartphones.

Worldwide PC shipments fell 1.4 percent at the end of last year, according to Gartner, and rose just 1.9 percent in the first quarter of this year, reflecting “worse than normal PC shipment growth”. Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa says computer sales have started to fall off as consumers wait for “two big releases: Intel’s Ivy Bridge and Microsoft’s Windows 8”.

But as the market becomes more crowded with ultrabook models, resellers serving the SMB space would do well to steer clear of ultrabooks designed for the consumer space and instead focus their efforts on those built for business. These business ultrabooks have been built for that specific purpose – business!

With fresh models expected from Asus, Acer, Dell, Lenovo and HP offering advanced power, connectivity and slick looks, these ultrabooks are more durable, easier to manage remotely and offer the all the features a business user needs.

To be classified as an ‘ultrabook’ they must be slimmer than 2.1cm, offer more than five hours of battery life, use Intel Sandy Bridge processors and wake in less than seven seconds. Other characteristics include solid-state disk drives for quick-boot capability and relatively long battery life. The question for VARs is whether ultrabooks will play a role in business?

Whilst it’s too early to gauge the real opportunities the business ultrabook market offers, due to most of the business-oriented products not shipping until Q3 this year, we believe these products will be a great fit for anyone travelling or working in the field who wants a full-size screen – bigger than 10.1 inches found in tablets – and faster processing with capabilities for content creation.

The ultrabook is a solution for two different niches; many business professionals may opt to carry a tablet for a meeting and an ultrabook for when presentations and more intensive work is required.

The ultrabook market, once established in the UK will start to eat more into the notebook business at the current price point, than the tablet market. The ultrabook competes more with other notebook form factors and screen sizes, while current models have a 13-inch screen size, there is talk that business devices will offer more mainstream sizes – 14 to 15 inches – later in the year.

With sales expected to leap as soon as these new business ultrabooks hit the market, channel partners are best to wait for the higher margins that business users bring. The ultrabook market is definitely one to watch this year!


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