Ultrabook Marketing: Ultra-Confusing

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Mitch Wagner
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Ellis, I applaud your laptop preferences with one significant difference: I want *one* machine to use as a laptop and a desktop, and so therefore I don't think $500-$600 will buy me enough horsepower to use as a primary machine. 

But as for the rest of it, yeah, I don't need a DVD player or a lot of other frills. I don't even need a particularly large screen -- I plug into a 27" huge external monitor when I'm at my desk. But I do need light weight, long battery life, and full desktop power, which is why I lust for a MacBook Air. I hear the SSDs give it screaming performance too; much of the delay on conventional systems comes from the disk drive. 

As for your waiting for the world to catch up with you on Linux: You'll be waiting a while. Bring a snack and something to read. 

Ellis Booker
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Blogger

It's one thing to endorse an industry standard, but using the moniker set by another vendor? Bad idea, in my opinion. How's the average shopper going to decide between all the competing "Ultrabooks"?

Wouldn't it be better to avoid this crowded train and invest in a marketing program that establishes your company's Ultrabook without using the term?

Meanwhile, in the laptop space there's a lot of brand equity at work, I think. I know people who won't touch Dell products. I know people who only buy Asus or Lenovo. Will these customers change teams because XYZ offers an "Ultrabook"? I don't see it.

After a professional lifetime luggin' laptops around the country, weight and battery life are the only two features that matter to me. And weight matters more than battery. I don't need a DVD player, I don't need 8Gb of RAM. I don't need to spend more than $500-$600.  (Finally, I'll take a machine preloaded with Windows, which I'll put keep isolated in a small partition on the HD, until the rest of the world catches up my desktop preference, Linux.) 

Alan A. Reiter
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Hi yuschick,

The type of laptops I discussed -- MacBook Airs and their clones -- certainly aren't for everyone, although the newest Airs are just fine for many people, even as a "desktop" machine when combined with a large monitor, external keyboard, external DVD drive, etc.

But as I wrote, marketers will have to promote why these products are better "for some people...." Power users who need a lot of onboard storage, the fastest processors, dedicated graphics chips, large screens, lots of RAM, etc. won't be able to use them as their main computers.

As I also wrote, I'm certainly glad laptops are evolving. My next laptop might be an Air or an Ultrabook-type laptop with, I hope, a better keyboard and more features (i.e., an Ethernet port!) than the Air.

Techies and IT managers will be able to determine which laptops are best for their purposes. Indeed, it's fun for me to evaluate technology (and my job!). But many consumers will have a devil of a time trying to sort out all the marketing/advertising claims.

yuschick
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Proponent

As I have recently been looking into ultrabooks and similar styled laptops such as the Sony Vaio Z, I find that the target audience for this line of laptops is pretty exact.  For me personally, being a web developer and designer, I need a laptop that has the power the run my applications (graphics and audio) easily, provides me substantial graphics capabilities all while remaining mobile for the on-the-go lifestyle more and more people are adapting.  I don't even mind the blatant Mac copying seen in Dell's XPS Z line.  However, from the marketing standpoint, I can see the field becoming cluttered and in turn confusing.  Despite the confusing marketing that may lie ahead for these laptops, I think the target audience will still benefit from this direction.

Alan A. Reiter
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Proponent

Hi AliceAMM,

Manufacturers are indeed going to have to make users -- consumers and enterprises -- want Ultrabook-type products. Lots of people lust after MacBook Airs, but can't afford them or consider them underpowered for very intensive tasks.

Social media certainly will help, but advertising/marketing will have to demonstrate why these laptops are better. I don't think it will be too difficult compared to some other marketing challenges (like convincing people to buy BlackBerry 7! I'm writing a CMO blog about this.).

My next laptop probably will be either an Air or an Ultrabook. I'm not an Apple person, and I don't like the poor key travel in the Air, but it's a beautifully designed machine. I would prefer to see Ultrabooks with better keyboards (Apple keyboards range from rotten to mediocre), more features (no Ethernet port -- really, Apple?!) and competitive prices.

AliceAMM
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Proponent
Re: And then there are tablets.
AliceAMM   2/2/2012 1:34:07 PM
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Manufacturers already offer checklists and recommendations, but it's not the focus of their marketing. The focus is on the device.

 

Focus on what the customer wants ... or create a want vs. saying here's what we have, take it or leave it. Really think that's where the influence of social media is key.


Mitch Wagner
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Blogger
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Ryck - Mitch, that may be true, but consumers now deal with that with so many other technologies, flat panel TVs are a good example.--LCD vs. plasma vs. LED vs. the soon-to-be popular OLED, different sizes, refresh rates, screen resolution etc.  Maybe we're selling them short.

... and maybe TV is an industry that's ripe for disruption, as Apple did with smartphones. 

And indeed there's a constantly recurring rumor that Apple will be coming out with its own TV this year. 

(A rumor of pretty sick of seeing. Bloggers are just rechewing the same thoroughly chewed food. Eventually you start seeing blogs comparing the nonexistent Apple TV to the equally vaporous next generation Google TV.)

Mitch Wagner
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Blogger
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Ryck - Mitch, that may be true, but consumers now deal with that with so many other technologies, flat panel TVs are a good example.--LCD vs. plasma vs. LED vs. the soon-to-be popular OLED, different sizes, refresh rates, screen resolution etc.  Maybe we're selling them short.

... and maybe TV is an industry that's ripe for disruption, as Apple did with smartphones. 

And indeed there's a constantly recurring rumor that Apple will be coming out with its own TV this year. 

(A rumor of pretty sick of seeing. Bloggers are just rechewing the same thoroughly chewed food. Eventually you start seeing blogs comparing the nonexistent Apple TV to the equally vaporous next generation Google TV.)

Alan A. Reiter
User Rank
Proponent

Hi Ryck,

Yes, mergers/partnerships might make sense. Intel offers chips for all sorts of devices, including desktop/laptop computers, tablets and phones.

Ryck
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Evangelist
Re: And then there are tablets.
Ryck   2/1/2012 8:19:10 PM
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Alan, that's why a merger may make more sense.  Apple clearly demonstrates that a firm can bridge the technological gap between handsets and computers.  Someone else may want to head in this direction, as we see the variety of computing/phone technologies more on a continuum rather than in discrete categories.

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