Intel labels Ultrabooks a “Failure”

Officially they have come around to our point of view

Intel logo 87x80 Intel labels Ultrabooks a FailureIn an absolute shock Intel has deemed the Ultrabook a failure and canceled it according to documents seen by SemiAccurate. It isn’t a shock because the program failed, it is really shocking only because Intel actually admitted it.

From the first time Intel introduced the Ultrabook concept SemiAccurate mocked it for cause. They were expensive, had awful battery life, lacked ports, were slower than competitors, miserably built, and in general made everything that people stopped buying PCs for even worse. In short they were Shiny Things For The Stupid (TM)(R)(C)(P). Much less for more money, form over function to the point where function was almost absent. What could possibly go wrong? If you looked at how much Intel wanted to get or each painfully marked up ULV/U-Series CPU, from their point of view it was perfect.

So they pushed this MacBook Air clone that lacked the speed, battery life, screen, panache, and general usability of the Air, all for more money than an Air. SemiAccurate had several hilarious conversations with Intel PR/Marketing about why anyone would bother with an Ultrabook over an Air, somehow they never came close to convincing us of their point of view. Sales tallies backed us up though with the so-called ‘real’ Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks hitting about 1/8th their promised, though laughable, numbers. In short anyone with a clue knew Ultrabooks made the Hindenburg look successful.

Intel even made a big deal about a $300 Million Ultrabook fund, something sources say was really not new spending, just sloshed funds that would have been spent anyway. Ironically this “free” and “no strings attached” but somehow-competition-excluding-fund was never fully “spent” either. OEMs seemed to think Ultrabooks were such a dog that they wouldn’t even take the normal MDF/fund suitcases full of cash to do it.

In a last-ditch attempt to save Ultrabooks, what did Intel do to make them not suck? For Haswell they mandated Windows 8, touch screens, anti-virus, and several other things that users really didn’t want. $200+ more in BoM costs to get an Ultrabook sticker on your next touch screen Windows 8 PCs was the obvious answer for Intel. Unfortunately the question that customers were asking is, “What don’t we like about PCs?” Intel still doesn’t get this one. Then again neither does Microsoft, at least if you go by sales numbers instead of paid off analyst quotes.

So now a bit less than three years in to the Ultrabook debacle Intel has come around to SemiAccurate’s point of view and officially labeled them a failure. No we are not making that up, there are documents floating around the company that use “Failure” to describe the program, charitable though that word is in this case. The term Ultrabook may still have some legs but as far as the money funnel and MDF kickbacks go, game over.

What is going to replace the smashing success of Ultrabooks? According to sources at Intel the new term is “Two-In-One” also known as detachable screen notebooks. They embody everything people hated about Ultrabooks, Windows 8/8.1 is again mandatory as is touch, and bring it to an even more expensive and less useful form factor. What people hated about PC was distilled in to Ultrabooks, now the few remaining useful bits are being yanked for only a bit more money. What on earth could go wrong with Two-In-Ones? Sadly from Intel’s point of view this one is even more perfect, just ask them.

So Ultrabooks are a failure, the Ultrabook fund was never real, and now the less useful Two-In-Ones are slated to pick up the torch and run Intel in to the ground. Intel just doesn’t understand why it is failing and that is quite sad, they do good work on the technical side then marketing makes a fool out of the result, It has gotten so bad that no one wants a PC any more but ARM based devices are selling like mad. Worse yet the few of us that do want a decent PC are precluded from buying one with a good screen, SSD, no touch, and no Windows 8. Intel won’t mandate these or anything else users ask for. Did we mention the glorious Two-In-One future?S|A

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 Intel labels Ultrabooks a Failure

Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group.