PC shipments have been slow for months and they should start bottoming out soon, but the PC cause is being undermined by pricey laptops, analysts believe. A new breed of high-end designs based on Haswell parts is shipping, but their prices seem out of touch with reality.
Buyers just don’t want to pay the premium for new chips, touchscreens or new form factors – and that premium can be quite steep. Most new Haswell laptops and ultrabooks cost a lot more than the average budget laptop and quite a few of them are priced north of £1,000.
“The thought that you can sell a $1,400 notebook is ridiculous. The mess is partly credited to Windows 8,” said Roger Kay, president and principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates, reports IDG News Service. “In their bones they don’t get it. They refuse to deal with the reality of what’s going on.”
Mikako Kitagawa, research analyst at Gartner, believes laptop prices have stabilized and may even creep up. PC vendors are trying to position laptops as premium products compared to tablets, which means they are more likely to focus on high-end and mid-range models, with higher margins.
This may leave more room for cheaper brands, who could focus on entry level laptops, but then again such laptops are experiencing high cannibalization rates from tablets, so the trend is a mixed bag at best. Still, someone always finds a way to make the most of a crisis and we reckon Chromebook makers could do well in such a climate.
However, things aren’t that great in the high-end, either. Now that most people are used to dirt cheap laptops and equally cheap tablets, convincing them to pay more for “premium” models won’t be easy.
Other than prestige or brand snobbery, it’s really hard to make a convincing case for high-end laptops right now. There will be no shortage of executives willing to pay £1,000 or more for a stylish piece of kit, or enthusiasts who go for even pricier, boutique offerings. However, most users will probably be better off buying a budget model for £500 and spending the rest on a tablet, or a vacant apartment complex in Spain.