Is the Microsoft (MSFT) Windows side of the PC world deathly afraid of Apple's (AAPL) red-hot Macbook Air? A report from Digitimes would indicate yes. The tech website is reporting that Acer (GM:ASIYF), Lenovo, Toshiba (OTCPK:TOSBF), and Asustek (GM:AKCPF) will all limit their initial shipments of Ultrabook notebook computers to less than 50,000 units. According to Gartner, these names account for four of the top six PC companies in the world, as measured by second-quarter 2011 unit sales.
Ultrabook is an Intel (INTC) marketing term which calls for the following specs:
- Intel core processor
- A chassis less than 21mm thick
- Intel Rapid Start Technology for near-instant start-up and data access
- At least five hours of battery life
This puts the Ultrabook line directly in competition with Apple's Macbook Air, which combines high-performance with a small form-factor via technologies like a flash memory-based solid-state drive. And why is Intel pushing this technology? Because the Macbook Air is red-hot, and Windows laptops are most definitely not.
NPD estimated that Apple's U.S. PC sales were up 26% in July, destroying the broader PC industry's 4% growth rate. One of the main drivers of that strength was Apple's new Macbook Air, which replaced the now-discontinued Macbook as Apple's entry-level laptop.
As far as stocks go, this news is bullish for Apple, because the competition's clearly afraid to put up a real fight. It's bearish for Intel and the rest of the PC supply chain. The lack of manufacturers' confidence could weigh on Ultrabook sales and limit a potential rebound in Windows notebook volumes.