Not long ago, if you looked around in the airport a fairly common sight used to be that of people running around frantically to locate charging stations for their laptops and mobile phones. The lucky ones used to form little clusters on the floor near the charging terminals with their laptops. Even coffee shops made money off travelers who used to sit there for 4-5 hours, working and charging their laptops while buying a single cup of coffee. For such people, portability is critical. They rely on their laptops every day in order to get a job done. If these tools cease to function, production slows to a crawl or stops altogether until the computing device is functioning again.
That was then. Nowadays, super-thin laptops, known as ultrabooks, are finding favour with the consumers due to their stylish and light weight design that accords greater mobility. Most important, ultrabooks are offering enhanced performance, extended battery life and large storage to meet the various needs of the consumers.
Consumers today prefer a computing device that is sleek, fast and allows connecting to the internet instantly, without compromising on the performance or security. The Indian consumer is opting for these sleek yet powerful computing devices—ultrabooks—with increasing ferocity over traditional desktops and notebooks. Young professionals who travel a lot and need thin and light notebooks, busy professionals who move from one meeting to the other and value rapid start functionality, and college students who prefer high battery life as well as thin and light computing devices are all early adopters.
Debjani Ghosh, managing director, Intel South Asia, says, “The ultrabook represents a new era in computing and the category continues to build momentum in India. Of course new eras don’t usually just happen on their own, there’s always some kind of driving force behind the transformation. And behind this new era of ultrabooks is an unprecedented coming together of the industry-wide ecosystem to create an entirely new product category in less than 12 months—something that required an incredible degree of effort, cooperation and innovation.” She adds: “We are thrilled to see the level of innovation and invention being brought into this category. We will see that several touch-enabled design will also start surfacing towards the end of the year.”
For the uninitiated, Intel has trademarked the ultrabook name, so only certain laptops that meet the ultrabook criteria can be called that. According to Intel, a laptop has to meet or exceed these five characteristics to be an ultrabook:
Quick startup: Going from hibernate to keyboard interaction in 7 seconds or less. Resume from sleep should be even faster than that
Long battery life: The minimum for a single charge of the battery must be at least 5 hours
Thinness: Ultrabooks need to be less than 21 mm thick Enhanced security: The laptop firmware must support Intel’s Anti-Theft and Identity Protection technology
Performance: Must be powered by Intel processors
In tech circles, the ultrabooks are basically Windows powered alternatives to the hot selling Apple MacBook Air. We all know how much hype the Apple MacBook Air generated with its ultra-thin design and powerful specifications. So, it was only a matter of time before Windows-powered alternatives hit the market.
Sandeep Aurora, director of marketing, Intel South Asia, says, “We are thrilled with the early momentum. Within the first year of introduction, more than 20 ultrabook designs powered by 2nd generation Intel Core processors were available in the market. We expect to see more than 110 ultrabook designs based on the 3rd Gen Intel Core processor family. All major OEMs have already launched their ultrabook devices based on the 3rd Gen Intel Core processors in India as well.”
Ranjivjit Singh, chief marketing officer, Printers and Personal Systems division, Hewlett-Packard India gives his view on market scenario: “This segment is still in an early adopter’s stage. Merrill Lynch forecast that global sales of ultrabooks would total 15 million units in 2012 and 50 million units in 2013, accounting for 7% and 20% of total notebook sales in those years, respectively. Additionally, significant R&D spending has been allocated to ultrabook development, together with Intel’s massive investments to establish the market segment.”
With the recently launched Ivy Bridge and upcoming Windows 8, the ultrabook computing space is going to be a key focus area for Hewlett-Packard. “The second half of 2012 will see more innovative ultrabooks with features, like touch screens, gesture control, voice recognition, etc, in addition to features like near field communication, precise multi-finger touch and gesture navigation that we already offer,” he adds.
According to Ranjit Yadav, country head, Mobile and IT, Samsung India, ultrabooks are finding favour with the consumers due to their stylish and light weight design that accords greater mobility. Besides, ultrabooks are offering enhanced performance, extended battery life and large storage to meet the various needs of the consumers. The South Korean company’s recently launched Samsung Series 5 ultrabooks offers all these and much more like near instant starts and even a built in DVD and SD card slot, all in a sleek form factor in the 14-inch variant.
“Indian consumers have some unique demands,” stresses Yadav. “They want better displays, higher picture and sound quality. In fact, they prefer louder output of built in speakers for entertainment purposes. Samsung Series 5 ultrabook boasts all such premium qualities and is readily offering strong displays and better sound. In fact, the JBL speakers within our product offers double the output power (4 watts RMS) as compared to usual laptops,” he informs.
Computer makers opine that the profile of the Indian consumer has changed dramatically in recent years. Today’s consumers belong to the ‘Now Generation’, says Sandeep Aurora of Intel South Asia. “They are young, status driven and on the go. Their rising incomes ensure that they are intuitive about their purchases right from their wardrobe to their computing products. Today, how young consumers spend and what they buy are deeply intertwined with their sense of self expression,” he adds.
In sync with this trend is HP, aggressively promoting its Envy 4 ultrabooks, which it feels perfectly fit into the lifestyle needs of the youth. “Young people look for convenience and portability along with high performance computing and entertainment capabilities when it comes to buying a new device. They demand freedom and the power to be ‘always on the move’ therefore making ‘mobility’ a key consideration for PC makers,” says the HP marketing head. “We expect that by end of 2013, 15% of our shipment will be ultrabook and by 2014 end it should be around 35-40%. And, if it touches 40%, ultrabooks will contribute 50% to HP’s notebook revenue.”
Much like their global counterparts, Indian consumers today demand a product which has high utility value and innovation that suits their style. Ultrabooks are in demand because they are light-weight, portable and easy to carry. They have a sleek design and also have a long lasting battery back-up, and differ from normal notebooks that may be bulky and difficult to carry.
Thinning crowds at airport terminals looking for charging stations shouldn’t disappoint you then. They’re all logged into these new-age devices!