And so the Ultrabook advertising begins. Intel has rolled out one of the first of its campaigns, in which it does a flash-mob style “pop-up theater”. While entertaining, I don’t think that focusing on things that will never happen in the real world is the right idea for competing against the MacBook Air.
Let’s face it, the Ultrabook push is exactly that – something to compete against the Air. The sad reality is that Ultrabooks should have happened a few years ago and never did, so now Windows-based PC manufacturers are trying to catch up to a market where Apple has huge domination.
Take a couple of minutes to watch the campaign in action, then we’ll get back to the points at hand:
Marketing isn’t the only challenge that Ultrabooks have to overcome. Apple’s already knee-deep into forcing the hand of some Chinese manufacturers that are making notebooks which too-closely resemble the Air for Apple’s comfort. In an era where Windows-based PC sales are in steep decline, while Apple continues to thrive, that’s a heavy weight to bear.
Now before you go calling me a fanboy, let me state this very clearly: I want Ultrabooks to do well. I like Ultrabooks. I like Windows 7. I simply think that the transition should have happened earlier, before Apple had such the chance to ingrain itself as deeply as it has. Want proof of how deeply-ingrained it is? Everywhere you looked at CES, people were showing off Ultrabooks. Time and time again, I heard “it looks like a MacBook Air.” The Air is the standard by which Ultrabooks will be judged, and its purely the fault of the industry for allowing that to happen.
There was another great product, not so long ago, that died a fiery death because of poor timing and marketing. It was webOS. You can argue all you’d like that it’s still alive and viable as HP has it today, but the fact is that webOS is dead on any sort of large scale. The victim of delayed timing from Palm, Inc, as well as horrible advertising for the first webOS device, the Pre.
So Intel, I wish you well in this. I honestly do. I hope that we see a market flooded with high-quality, sub-$1000 Ultrabooks and I hope you guys make a mint from it. But your message sucks. It’s wrong. Change it now and show us things that we’ll really do. Show us impressive battery life, coupled with high performance in a slim and sexy package. Show us the things that we care about.