Ultra-portables are becoming increasingly popular, growing 100 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to ABI Research. This translates to 12.3 percent (22.5 million) of notebook PC shipment in 2013 (182.7 million).
“Across 24 countries tracked in November 2013, we found average ultra-portable PC selling prices ranging from US$940 to US$1,540 with the majority of models offered above US$1,200 in each country,” said Jeff Orr, Senior Practice Director of ABI Research. “The ASPs suggest ultra-portables including the convertible and detachable 2-in-1 configurations remained at the high-end of the notebook PC category exiting 2013.”
Beyond Apple’s MacBook Air running MacOS, the bulk of ultra-portable PCs are powered by the Windows 8 operating system, which suffered fits and starts during 2013 due to usability issues and poor first impressions by early adopter audiences. A revision, Windows 8.1, was released in the second half of the year to address these concerns, though popular opinion suggests many considering a refresh to their existing systems are willing to wait for the hiccups to be worked out before making a financial commitment.
And with tablet prices coming down year-over-year, many consumer budgets that are still reeling from a global recession are willing to experiment with the lower-cost, slate form-factor.
Looking ahead, ABI Research expects LTE mobile broadband as a standard feature to become a differentiator for the mobile network operator channel, enhancing its selling opportunity beyond smartphones.“As LTE reaches critical mass for network coverage, markets will be able to abandon 3G mode compatibility and carriers will readily shift toward LTE-only modems in data-centric computing applications,” said Orr.
By 2015, North America will relinquish the regional lead for ultra-portables as Asia-Pacific pushes forward due to market saturation in the early adopter countries.