Ultrabooks got off to a slow start -- but thanks to new Intel chips, Windows 8 and creative form factors, 2013 might be the breakout year.
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The PC market is generally a competitive field with many players -- and the need to differentiate now might be stronger than ever, given that sales have been in an extended slump.
Ron DeLine, Intel's director of marketing for the Ultrabook program, implied, however, that manufacturers of Ultrabooks have a particular incentive to innovate.
He stated that Ultrabooks are "beneficial to the industry at large" because they encourage PC makers to experiment with new designs and to develop manufacturing processes that make producing the requisite components financially tenable. If an OEM invests in thin components, for example, economies of scale are driven down, leading PC makers to distribute new ideas across numerous models. This means that design concepts are combined in varied ways, leading to more choices and cutting-edge Ultrabook models.
"You see what used to be the center design point of 35 mm go down to below one inch," DeLine stated. "You'll see a whole bunch of visibly thinner designs ... [that] feed back to our vision for reinvigorating the entire industry."
DeLine explained that if the new Ultrabook form factors "get it right," they'll "unleash the power of multiple guys placing bets in multiple places in the market." In other words, as manufacturers compete with one another, the result will be not only more innovative products but also more compelling price points.
Server Market SplitsvilleJust because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.