Acer’s brand spanking new MacBook Air challenger: The Ultrabook Aspire S3.

Acer vice president Scott Lin is drumming up Ultrabooks, low-powered, ultra-thin and ultra-portable Windows PCs akin to the MacBook Air based on Intel’s latest chips and reference designs. Lin estimated that Ultrabooks will account for nearly one-third (30 percent) of the worldwide consumer notebook shipments by the end of next year. Moreover, tablet PCs, of which iPad accounts for approximately two-thirds of shipments, will be the first products to be impacted, he claims. DIGITIMES has the story:

Lin pointed out that tablet PCs are mainly emphasizing light and thin features as well as entertainment capabilities, and once notebooks are capable of achieving the same features, while still maintaining battery longevity, consumer’s purchasing behavior will reverse as consumers would rather choose a machine that can satisfy their demand for both entertainment and work, instead of carrying a tablet PC and a notebook around.

He concludes by saying we’ll turn our attention back to notebooks at the expense of tablets in 2012. We’re not so sure about this. First Utrabooks are either pricier than the Air (due to Intel’s stubbornness and expensive chips) or they offer fewer features than Apple’s ultra-portable.

The story also references a J.P. Morgan Asia study asserting a 25 percent drop in iPad manufacturing output for the fourth quarter which has been however quickly debunked by J.P. Morgan themselves. Most importantly, notebooks – even the ultra-thin ones – and tablets cater to totally different needs and usage scenarios: The former are for serious work, the latter are for entertainment, web activities and media consumption. Also…

iPad 3 is expected early next year. It’ll no doubt be yet another high-profile launch for Apple that is bound to re-new the excitement for tablets and quite possibly spark an upgrade cycle. Let’s not forget the ever-growing array of upcoming Android tablets that will run Nvidia’s powerful quad-core chips and Google’s Android Honeycomb software. With that in mind, it is OK for Lin to try and generate some excitement for his company’s Ultrabook computers. In addition to Acer, other PC vendors are also scrambling to compete with Apple’s MacBook Air with Ultrabooks, including Asustek, Lenovo, Toshiba, Samsung and Hewlett-Packard. At the same time, Intel itself is aware that its partners cannot match the MacBook Air until the Ivy Bridge platform, due by the second half of next year. According to another DIGITIMES article, Intel is unwilling to lower prices for 2010 Ultrabooks and will instead up their marketing expenditure in order to “boost morale” among the Ultrabook backers.

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