Though Windows 8, energy-efficient processors, novel form factors and other new technologies make Ultrabooks appealing, several barriers still stand in the way of the platform's success.
One is price. On the one hand, costs are coming down. Ron DeLine, Intel's director of marketing for the Ultrabook program, remarked that "hitting price points that are $699 across all the major OEMs ... was an important part of [Intel's] strategy." Even so, many of the most compelling devices are nowhere near this relatively affordable mark. The base cost for the Lenovo X1 Carbon, for example, is around $1,200. The Dell XPS 12 is similarly expensive.
The other barrier is competition. The last few weeks alone have seen the Surface tablet launch, the announcement of not only the iPad Mini but also a new iPad, and the appearance of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Eye-catching as some Ultrabooks are, it will be tough to gain traction in such a crowded environment.
Even so, the Ultrabooks are more enticing than ever, and once the Haswell chips begin shipping, they'll be even better positioned to capture market share. Odds are good that they'll merit the consideration of PC shoppers -- but whether that consideration translates to sales is a different matter.