Ever since the launch of the iPad, PC companies that specialize in old-fashioned laptops have been searching for a way to win back lost customers. That’s why big names in the industry have been working closely with Intel to develop ultrabooks, a new category of thin laptops that weigh as little as 2 pounds. These laptops are supposed to appeal to iPad enthusiasts and hold their own against Apple’s sleek MacBook Air.
For companies accustomed to eking out the thinnest of margins, the new machines, with prices ranging from $650 to more than $1,600, offer the promise of healthier, if not huge, profits. Computer makers hope ultrabooks’ lower price will give them an advantage over the MacBook Air, and the machines’ Windows operating system—and physical keyboard—will make them a better option for business than the iPad. “This is one product where the PC guys have a fighting chance,” says Kirk Yang, managing director at Barclays in Hong Kong. “They really have to make this work.”