Intel plans big price cuts in Ultrabook marketing push

Intel plans some big price drops this year as it begins to ramp up a massive advertising campaign to ram its Ultrabooks into the mainstream.

It may seem like Ultrabooks are already inescapable, with a number of machines dotting the halls of CeBIT, but Intel is readying itself for an enormous campaign this year with Ivy Bridge on its way and Windows 8 around the corner.

Karen Regis, director of Ultrabook marketing, told TechEye that the biggest campaign since Centrino is on the way soon, with the firm having only worked alongside its hardware in pushing the ultrathin devices up until now.

Ivy Bridge may not have a release date yet – Intel would only confirm that it would be in the first half of 2012 – but this is the crucial year for whether the Ultrabook will live up to the hype.

Whether this means that Ivy Bridge could see an earlier release to coincide with an advertising push is yet to be seen.  Talks of delays themselves were dismissed, with Regis telling us that Sandy Bridge’s successor is still “online with its retail cycle”.

With the move to 22nm, Intel claims that Sandy Bridge will still get a look in and is promising to continue to push sales with the first wave of chips. Of course, with Intel’s ongoing “journey to a vision”, the initial Ultrabooks could seem a bit old hat.

We were told that the public will see OEMs begin to experiment with form factors soon, and there are should be moves to larger, 14 inch screens.  The imminent release of Windows 8 should also introduce touchscreens later this year.

According to Regis, it’s likely that all Ultrabooks will have touch features “eventually”, though this is “dependent on cost” as touch screens add top whack onto the bill of materials. “Don’t expect to see it on entry level systems”, Regis said, and Intel sees them as just one of the ways in which Ultrabooks will start to diversify this year.

Price is still a thorny issue for Intel, and Regis tells us that there has been much work along with its component makers to bring prices down.   With economies of scale pushing down prices, consumers can expect prices to get “much lower” going into the Christmas holiday period, though we were assured that this won’t be at the expense of quality.

Intel refuses to share its targets for price point, claiming that it “doesn’t want to race to the bottom pricing”, and won’t “drive down to the lowest common denominator to meet an arbitrary target”.

At the same time we were told that there are “aggressive goals” internally at the firm, with staff getting bonuses for every time they lower the cost of the devices.