In the fifth and longest part of our interview with Pat Bliemer we discussed the new product category Ultrabook. What is an Ultrabook – is it just a thin computer, what the future looks like and not the least will it compete with Apple MacBook Air?

Ultrabooks has been a hot topic since this Summer, and has both been praised and critisized. As it looks today msny may think it is nothing but a thin computer, perhaps even very inspired of MacBook Air. During our discussion with Pat Bliemer several interesting things came up, and killed certain rumors and speculations.

We start with what Intel says has been more myth than fact. During the time the concept was discussed it was reported that manufacturers were afraid to take on the concept. Pat Bliemer thought that most of was published by media was just false rumors. The Ultrabook market will be small in 2011, but it is all about building a brand, and get people to understand the concept before next year when the real launch comes.

”I wouldn’t say that they’re afraid adopt, I do think the last couple of weeks or months there’s been some misleading articles like large OEM’s cancelling lots of volumes and then a couple of days later there come clarification saying that’s not what they said. Q4 for us, or the fourth quarter 2011 is basically for us to go and get the product into the market and start working with our OEM’s and retail partners predominantly right now, because the main focus for the first half of 2012 will be the consumer market for Ultrabooks to go and get that category established. And getting people to understand that this is kind of a different type of breed.”

Many think Ultrabooks are not special – it is just a very thin computer. To answer that he said that Intel has a roadmap that will not only evolve the hardware and formfactor, but also the software and functions to make them stand out.

”Exactly, and this is actually one of the challenges but what we have is a roadmap that is not only going to evolve on the hardware side and the formfactor all together with our OEM partners, but also what you see is that we are going to a lot more in terms of software and capabilities that we’re going to make available.[…]But also think about anti-theft technology, identity protection and you know that we have a lot of Intel technologies.”

Future Ultrabooks will get a new face, will not just be a thin notebook

Considering functionality Ultrabooks will be something new and Windows 8 will be an important ingredient. We mentioned that Paul Otellini had said that people will want to touch the screen when Windows 8 comes out with its Metro interface, and it has to come to Ultrabooks. Ultrabooks with touch screen should be available with Windows 8. Pat Bliemer says he has seen models and concept ideas with everything from a detachable screen like ASUS Transformer, and screens that pivots, but also other alternative products. Something we thinks sounds like a first step toward getting the formfactor to stand out from traditional notebooks and tablets.

”Yeah, now everything is clamshell-based right? But we know, we’ve seen plans from various OEM’s with different types of devices and you named a few options like convertible Tablet-like, Transformer-like.[…]Yeah we will see a whole variety of that coming out once we’re also add touch to the capability with Windows 8. I think it’s pretty exciting, I think this is going to be new to some degree and on the other hand we are going to continue to go and innovate and spend a lot of R&D to go and actually drive it and keep the technology lead as well of course.”

This does not apply to all Ultrabooks, but there will be alternatives and the concept will stand out from both tablets and notebooks.

The Ultrabook is no competitor to MacBook Air?

Next we had a question we just had to ask, namely how the concept will be able to compete with Apple’s MacBook Air. As of today the two have almost the exact same form factor and design, but he said that he neither believes that the two will compete or that Intel wants them to .

”Let me first clarify we definitely don’t think that we want to compete, cause at the end of the day the Apple, in the MacBook Air there’s Intel technology.”

ultrabooksMacBook Air and Ultrabooks are not direct competitors says Intel

Even if Intel doesn’t see it like that, the manufacturers wants to compete with MacBook Air. He doesn’t consider this a good arguement, since Apple’s users will not be comparing Ultrabooks to MacBook Air. They are different product categories and going from one operating system to another is not something end users do often or eve like doing. He also believes that the number of formfactors that looks like MacBook Air can help Apple to boost its sales.

”I see it slightly different. I do think that Apple has such a strong value proposition and the users of Apple that basically look at all other attributes that come with the Apple-brand and I don’t think they are comparing side-to-side. This form factor or this product against the MacBook Air for example. So I would expect, now my expaction is that Apple will continue to do extremely well as they are doing right now. Maybe even because more and more people are going to start looking at this form factor, maybe actually that will help them to lift sales on the MacBook Air. Although of course the price points are different, but then again that’s the same if you look at the normal MacBook versus notebook right? Are they competing with eachother? Well I think Apple has demonstrated year over year that they have a very robust model and they increase sales every quarter.”

The last part of our interview with Pat Bliemer will be a full article with material from our prevous articles and more quotes on most topics. We will also add our discussion about the very special Nordic market, netbooks and also short on harddrives and SSDs.

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