"Initial ultrabooks came to market several hundred dollars above consumer expectations," says senior practice director Jeff Orr. "High systems prices and waiting for the upcoming Windows 8 operating system are two leading reasons for lack of adoption." Next-generation systems that bring prices down closer to audience requirements along with touch-screen models that provide versatile input methods are promised for 2013. The ultra-portable segment has significant growth potential as consumer expectations are met. ABI Research predicts a healthy growth rate of 53 percent over the 2012 to 2017 forecast period.
At the low end of portable computing is the Netbook PC. Netbooks kept the portable computing market afloat during the 2009 global recession by offering a low-cost solution for families and students. Now, the majority of PC OEMs have shifted focus away from the low-margin netbook toward more profitable media tablets.
The remaining netbook vendors are focused on educational deployments as a learning tool. Both OLPC and Intel's Classmate PC partners continue to promote the use of technology within classroom settings all over the globe. More than 15 million netbooks are expected to ship worldwide this year. "Latin America has already taken advantage of the netbook opportunity, while the Eastern European markets are ramping deployments," adds Orr.