This is the time of year you start counting your change and seeing what kind of gadgets you can afford. Whether it’s for yourself or a loved one, nothing brings out the holiday cheer better than a new pad, laptop, or PC. But market analysts have their eyes on a number of different trends, including raw computational specs, sales figures, and forecasts for the short term and long term.
Just in time for the holidays, Google is slashing prices on their Acer and Samsung Chromebooks. Chromebooks are stripped down personal computers that feature a Chrome-like operating system and are intended for little more than Internet browsing and basic document composition. Google, perhaps anticipating a losing battle with other notebook and pad manufacturers, notably cut the prices in time for black Friday. In addition to the price change, Chromebooks will also have a slightly altered user interface with an updated New Tab menu and a cleaner login window.
Chromebooks have been around since June of 2011 and the reception has been mixed, though a great many mobile consumers still prefer choosing a netbook from the new models. Some consumers like the simplicity of the cloud-enabled device while others see it as a glorified web browser with little extra utility. While a cheaper holiday price could bolster sales for the winter, the jury is still out as to whether the Chromebook can survive in the long run. It could be rendered obsolete when better notepads become cheaper, themselves fleeced by the onslaught of Ultrabooks.
While the upscale portable PC Macbook Air is still considered a likely high-seller over the holidays, it too could soon have competition from the new generation of Ultrabooks coming out next year, perhaps challenging the seemingly indomitable Apple, who has hijacked the market in more ways than just sales figures. Apparently, they’ve monopolized the main material used in lightweight PC’s too.
So the next big concern coming down the aisle for Ultrabooks may be simpler than CPU, RAM, hard-drives, and networking, it will concern what material to use. It seems much of the aluminum chassis needed to produce the popular magnesium-aluminum alloy for these devices is in short supply (with Apple having formed rock solid alliances with the two major alloy vendors) and manufacturers like Acer, Asus and HP are considering using fiberglass. Acer has already announced plans for a 15-inch fiberglass-encased notepad in 2012.
Magnesium-aluminum alloy or no, the battle of the portable PC will extend to well beyond the holiday season with HP, Dell, Sony, Toshiba, Acer and Apple all looking for supremacy.