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Monday, June 24, 2013

Hope for the Future of Chromebooks and Ultrabooks

It’s been nearly three years since Google introduced Chromebooks â€" laptops that are always connected to the Internet and store everything online. And it’s been a year and a half since Intel introduced the ultrabook category â€" thin, lightweight notebooks that cost $800 or more. But neither of these new laptop categories has given a jolt to the flatlining PC industry, because many people are buying tablets instead. Is there hope?

Gartner, the research firm, suggested that there’s a chance. In a research report published Monday, Gartner said it believed that consumers would become increasingly attracted to devices like the Chromebook and other thin and lightweight notebooks. Part of the newfound interest in these notebooks, Gartner said, will come as more of these devices include Intel’s new processors, called Bay Tril and Haswell, which raise performance and battery life.

Gartner estimates that shipments of these notebooks, which it calls “ultramobiles,” will grow to roughly 20.3 million this year, up from 9.8 million last year. Still, Gartner predicted that the overall PC market, including ultramobiles, would probably shrink this year. It estimates that worldwide, manufacturers will ship 305 million PCs, down 10.6 percent from last year.

In another sign of how grim things are looking for the PC, Samsung Electronics, the South Korean manufacturer that is the biggest phone maker in the world, said Monday that it would stop making desktop PCs because demand is low and the devices unprofitable. It said it would instead focus on tablets and laptops.