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Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 09:47 pm PT (12:47 am ET)

Acer chairman sees Mac growth stalling in face of ultrabook surge

Acer chairman JT Wang expects Apple's gains in the PC industry to weaken over the next two years as a result of a future surge in sales of notebooks matching Intel's ultrabook design specifications.

Wang admitted that platforms from Apple and Google will join Microsoft and Intel, a partnership often referred to as the Wintel platform, to make up the three major platforms of the PC industry, according to a report from DigiTimes, but he believes new gains from Windows-based PC makers will erase Apple's recent market share growth.

"[Wang] expects Apple platform growth will start weakening in the next two years and the major driver will be replaced by rapid growth of Wintel," the report said. He also added a prediction that sales of devices based on Google's Android platform will flatten out in the PC industry.

The executive went on to claim that ultrabooks will spur surging Wintel growth next year when ultrabook prices drop to $699. For its part, Intel believes it will reach a 40 percent share of the notebook market next year with the ultrabook design it unveiled in May.

Though a separate report from DigiTimes recently claimed that marketing subsidies from Intel would enable as much as 10 percent in price cuts next year, it will likely be difficult for PC vendors to reach the $699 price point. Intel's partners have already had a tough time meeting the chipmaker's sub-$1,000 goal for the specifications. Earlier this year, they reportedly lobbied Intel for a 50 percent cut on ultrabook CPUs because they were struggling to cut costs, but Intel agreed to provide just a 20 percent discount for "first-tier notebook players."

As interest in netbooks have waned and all but a few non-iPad tablets have proved failures in 2011, PC makers have come to view ultrabooks as a beacon of hope. The slide in netbook demand has hit Acer, the No. 1 netbook maker, the hardest, though the company has tepidly voiced its commitment to market the low-margin laptops in emerging markets.

Acer suffered a humbling first-ever quarterly loss earlier this year in part because of competition from stiff Apple's iPad, but Wang believes that interest in tablets is merely a "fever" that will soon recede. Last year, he claimed that the iPad's share of the market will drop to 20 percent.

Meanwhile, Apple has seen sustained growth in Mac shipments in recent years, rapidly outpacing other PC makers. The Mac platform's worldwide market share reached a 15-year high last quarter after pushing past the 5 percent mark. The MacBook Air in particular has seen substantial success, rising to account for 28 percent of Apple's notebook shipments.