Ultrabooks, Convertibles, Mini-Pads, Tablets and More, Oh My!

Consumers face a dizzying array of device choices from Ultrabooks to tablets and beyond.

It used to be so simple: desktop or laptop? Other questions came into play when buying a computer not so long ago, like how fast was the processor, how big of a hard-drive and the brand. But with the staggering range of computing devices on the market today, the era of easy decision-making is so yesterday.

Ultrabook Zone Best Buy

Shoppers get a hands-on education at an Ultrabook Zone, which are located at more than 21,000 retail locations worldwide, including many Best Buy stores.

“It is an extremely exciting time to be a consumer as we move at a dizzying pace, but because of the plethora of devices out there today, it is also a confusing time for them as they struggle to figure out the best screen to use for accessing their digital stuff,” said retail analyst Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies.

Screens, once exclusive to laptops and desktops, are now found on tablets, netbooks, all-in-ones, smartphones and the Ultrabook, among other categories. The Ultrabook ranks have swelled since the category was introduced a year ago and now come in a number of flavors. Convertible and detachable touch models have just arrived, nudging their way online and onto store shelves next to standard clamshell Ultrabook devices that may or may not have an optical drive. The convertibles, themselves, present further choices to shoppers who, depending on their depth of research and retailer availability, will hear about styles called “swivel,” “flip,” “Ferris wheel,” “twist” and “slide.”

The recent launch of Windows 8 has ushered in an array of new Ultrabook models, bringing with them more choices and at the same time more perplexity to many consumers. Intel, the driver behind the Ultrabook, has prepared for this day by developing programs that reach consumers online and in-store long before a purchase is made.

“Over a year ago we anticipated this, as we saw the design win momentum with Ultrabook and all the innovative form factors,” said Patrick Murray, acting director of Intel’s Consumer Channels Group. “We knew there would be the positive side of wonderful choices for shoppers with Windows 8, but we know more choices can confuse consumers and result in delayed purchasing.”

An independent study commissioned by Intel concluded that the recent explosion of computing devices in market will lengthen the time to purchase beyond the 30 to 40 days that had been the norm.

“Our new question is how long will it take now?” said Kerry Sama Rubio, a market research analyst for Intel. “Shoppers who once came in looking for a laptop now look around and say, ‘What’s that?’ There are so many more device types, and now you have small tablets just hitting with the Nexus 7, iPad Mini … and then you have all the operating systems with Win 8, Windows RT, Android, iOS, Google has its own OS …. Shoppers hadn’t really thought about what operating systems they’re running, but now Microsoft, Apple and Intel want to have them think about it. Intel wants them to care.”

Helping consumers get to the place of caring, and, if doubly successful, finding them the right device based on their needs and budget, Intel has engaged in programs that reach consumers at every stage of what Murray calls the “shopper journey.”

“Research tells us that shoppers typically don’t buy something the first time they go into a store,” he said. “They will do online research, talk to friends, read magazines and a number of other things. Then after narrowing down to a couple of devices they go back into the store, and that’s where training the retail salespeople comes in so that the shopper can say, ‘This is the right one.’ We must have tools and assets for the different touch points along their journey.”

One resource that Intel is making available to assist retailers and ease overwhelmed computer shoppers is intelligent point-of-sale — or iPOS. Designed to draw attention to Intel-based PCs, retailers can download the tool and customize it to provide shoppers information about particular systems and compare them to others.

Ultrabook Computers in Akihabara shopping district Tokyo

Consumers now face a dizzying number of different computing devices as more store shelves come to resemble mega computer supercenters such as in Tokyo's tech-focused Akihabara shopping district.

Perhaps the most visible marketing tactic, outside the television commercials that are part of Intel’s biggest advertising campaign since 2003, is the Ultrabook Zone. Launched during the 2011 holiday season, these display areas, including an “Ultrabook City” in Thailand, are now in more than 21,000 high-volume stores and other high-traffic locations worldwide where shoppers can get a hands-on education on a range of systems. The concept is being deemed a success by Intel, which said that worldwide and on average, stores with Ultrabook Zones experienced a three times higher mix of Ultrabook systems sold (among all notebook PCs sold) than stores without these stand-out displays.

“The Ultrabook Zones help shoppers decide what form works best for them — twist, swivel, detachable, clamshell — and lets them think about and picture how they’ll use it,” Murray said. “Retail partners are excited because the Ultrabook Zone makes for a better-informed customer and helps them make decisions quickly.”

To further aide consumers in the decision-making process, Intel has provided more than 400,000 face-to-face and online training sessions to retail sales professionals since the beginning of the year. The number is expected to reach half a million by Black Friday.

Best Buy, meanwhile, has invested more than 50,000 hours of training dedicated to selling skills and product knowledge in preparation for “one of the biggest transformations in the history of computing,” according to company spokesman Jeff Haydock.

“Consumers have a lot to think about from laptops to Ultrabooks and from tablets to all-in-ones,” he said. “Best Buy has been preparing for this exciting time in the computing industry for close to 3 years, focusing on three main areas: training, in-store experience and exclusive products.”

The Ultrabook Zone is one example of how Best Buy is enhancing the in-store experience to “provide clarity to customers for all of the different options available,” according to Haydock.

“The new world of computing and tablets emphasizes the need to see, touch and try these new systems and form factors,” he said.

Ultrabooks, Convertibles, Mini-Pads, Tablets and More, Oh My!

Consumers face a dizzying array of device choices from Ultrabooks to tablets and beyond.

It used to be so simple: desktop or laptop? Other questions came into play when buying a computer not so long ago, like how fast was the processor, how big of a hard-drive and the brand. But with the staggering range of computing devices on the market today, the era of easy decision-making is so yesterday.

Ultrabook Zone Best Buy

Shoppers get a hands-on education at an Ultrabook Zone, which are located at more than 21,000 retail locations worldwide, including many Best Buy stores.

“It is an extremely exciting time to be a consumer as we move at a dizzying pace, but because of the plethora of devices out there today, it is also a confusing time for them as they struggle to figure out the best screen to use for accessing their digital stuff,” said retail analyst Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies.

Screens, once exclusive to laptops and desktops, are now found on tablets, netbooks, all-in-ones, smartphones and the Ultrabook, among other categories. The Ultrabook ranks have swelled since the category was introduced a year ago and now come in a number of flavors. Convertible and detachable touch models have just arrived, nudging their way online and onto store shelves next to standard clamshell Ultrabook devices that may or may not have an optical drive. The convertibles, themselves, present further choices to shoppers who, depending on their depth of research and retailer availability, will hear about styles called “swivel,” “flip,” “Ferris wheel,” “twist” and “slide.”

The recent launch of Windows 8 has ushered in an array of new Ultrabook models, bringing with them more choices and at the same time more perplexity to many consumers. Intel, the driver behind the Ultrabook, has prepared for this day by developing programs that reach consumers online and in-store long before a purchase is made.

“Over a year ago we anticipated this, as we saw the design win momentum with Ultrabook and all the innovative form factors,” said Patrick Murray, acting director of Intel’s Consumer Channels Group. “We knew there would be the positive side of wonderful choices for shoppers with Windows 8, but we know more choices can confuse consumers and result in delayed purchasing.”

An independent study commissioned by Intel concluded that the recent explosion of computing devices in market will lengthen the time to purchase beyond the 30 to 40 days that had been the norm.

“Our new question is how long will it take now?” said Kerry Sama Rubio, a market research analyst for Intel. “Shoppers who once came in looking for a laptop now look around and say, ‘What’s that?’ There are so many more device types, and now you have small tablets just hitting with the Nexus 7, iPad Mini … and then you have all the operating systems with Win 8, Windows RT, Android, iOS, Google has its own OS …. Shoppers hadn’t really thought about what operating systems they’re running, but now Microsoft, Apple and Intel want to have them think about it. Intel wants them to care.”

Helping consumers get to the place of caring, and, if doubly successful, finding them the right device based on their needs and budget, Intel has engaged in programs that reach consumers at every stage of what Murray calls the “shopper journey.”

“Research tells us that shoppers typically don’t buy something the first time they go into a store,” he said. “They will do online research, talk to friends, read magazines and a number of other things. Then after narrowing down to a couple of devices they go back into the store, and that’s where training the retail salespeople comes in so that the shopper can say, ‘This is the right one.’ We must have tools and assets for the different touch points along their journey.”

One resource that Intel is making available to assist retailers and ease overwhelmed computer shoppers is intelligent point-of-sale — or iPOS. Designed to draw attention to Intel-based PCs, retailers can download the tool and customize it to provide shoppers information about particular systems and compare them to others.

Ultrabook Computers in Akihabara shopping district Tokyo

Consumers now face a dizzying number of different computing devices as more store shelves come to resemble mega computer supercenters such as in Tokyo's tech-focused Akihabara shopping district.

Perhaps the most visible marketing tactic, outside the television commercials that are part of Intel’s biggest advertising campaign since 2003, is the Ultrabook Zone. Launched during the 2011 holiday season, these display areas, including an “Ultrabook City” in Thailand, are now in more than 21,000 high-volume stores and other high-traffic locations worldwide where shoppers can get a hands-on education on a range of systems. The concept is being deemed a success by Intel, which said that worldwide and on average, stores with Ultrabook Zones experienced a three times higher mix of Ultrabook systems sold (among all notebook PCs sold) than stores without these stand-out displays.

“The Ultrabook Zones help shoppers decide what form works best for them — twist, swivel, detachable, clamshell — and lets them think about and picture how they’ll use it,” Murray said. “Retail partners are excited because the Ultrabook Zone makes for a better-informed customer and helps them make decisions quickly.”

To further aide consumers in the decision-making process, Intel has provided more than 400,000 face-to-face and online training sessions to retail sales professionals since the beginning of the year. The number is expected to reach half a million by Black Friday.

Best Buy, meanwhile, has invested more than 50,000 hours of training dedicated to selling skills and product knowledge in preparation for “one of the biggest transformations in the history of computing,” according to company spokesman Jeff Haydock.

“Consumers have a lot to think about from laptops to Ultrabooks and from tablets to all-in-ones,” he said. “Best Buy has been preparing for this exciting time in the computing industry for close to 3 years, focusing on three main areas: training, in-store experience and exclusive products.”

The Ultrabook Zone is one example of how Best Buy is enhancing the in-store experience to “provide clarity to customers for all of the different options available,” according to Haydock.

“The new world of computing and tablets emphasizes the need to see, touch and try these new systems and form factors,” he said.