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Ultrabook demand soars Stateside

But they're still a tiny percentage of the market

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That Ultrabooks have grabbed almost 11 per cent of the $700-and-up Windows notebook market in the US during the first five months of the year sounds impressive, until you realise how small that market segment is.

The statistic above comes from US retail market watcher NPD. It said Ultrabooks' share of the $700-plus segment has risen month on month through 2012, from around 6.5 per cent in January to just over 15 per cent in May.

But the $700-plus segment accounts for just 14 per cent of laptop sales in the States, boosted a couple of percentage point this year by the Ultrabook sales, from 12 per cent in 2011.

Ultrabooks' share of the US $700-plus Windows laptop market

US $700+ Windows laptop sales. Data source: NPD

Data source: NPD

In other words, 86 per cent of the laptops sold in the US this year so far cost a lot less than Ultrabooks do. And since - taking May's figures - Ultrabooks account for just 15 per cent of that 14 per cent of the total notebook market, that means Ultrabooks' share of the overall US laptop arena is a mere 2.1 per cent.

This is pretty much what we're seeing in the UK too.

Still, while sales of lower-priced machines are falling sharply - the laptop market as a whole is currently down 17 per cent, NPD said - the decline of pricier machines is less steep: the $700-plus segment fell just three per cent.

And the market for laptops costing $900 or more was up 39 per cent. No surprise, that - most Ultrabooks actually cost at least $900. Indeed, their average selling price is $927, NPD said. The monthly average only dropped below $900 in May, to $885.

The average price of a laptop in the states is $510, according to NPD.

The researcher reckons Ultrabooks - well, cheaper, sub-$700 ones, at any rate - will become a "hot form-factor" as autumn approaches and kids go back to school. Microsoft's Windows 8 roll out in Q4 will push them further.

But Ultrabooks will have to sell in sigincifantly greater numbers if they're to reverse or even halt the laptop market's decline. ®

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