Ultrabooks? Too expensive for us, say CIOs

Hefty price tag puts corporate Ultrabook deployments on hold, according to the TechRepublic CIO Jury.

Ultrabook vendors will have to work harder to persuade CIOs of the benefits of their slimmed-down laptops, because the hefty price tag is failing to impress members of TechRepublic's CIO Jury.

Ultrabooks are the latest laptop innovation - thinner, faster-booting and less power-hungry than a standard laptop, and still packing plenty of processing power for everyday tasks. But the lightweight notebooks, which aim to take on Apple's MacBook Air, aren't cheap - and the high prices may put off some less style-conscious buyers.

And when asked, "Are you planning to roll out Ultrabooks in your organisation?", TechRepublic's CIO Jury voted no by 11 votes to one, suggesting that Ultrabook vendors need to do more to explain the business benefits of what is perceived to be a luxury item.

The high cost of Ultrabooks was seen by many CIOs as a factor in holding them back from rolling out the thin laptops.

Kevin Quealy, director of information services and facilities, Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, said: "We will not look at Ultrabooks until the prices come down in line with laptops. Right now our guys use good laptops and tablets to accomplish what they need. I'm also dubious about the performance of Ultrabooks compared with laptops until I have a chance to test."

Similarly, James Salmon, CIO, BPP Group & University College described Ultrabooks as "insufficiently powerful".

Madhushan Gokool, IT manager at Storm Models, added: "The hefty price tag is definitely not a good thing."

Tim Stiles, CIO at Bremerton Housing Authority, said: "We see no productivity gains associated with the Ultrabook platform", while Ian Auger, head of IT and communications at ITN, said, "Like any mobile technology, we will test and see if the benefits justify the price increment."

Some tech chiefs are more interested in other form factors. Mike Roberts, IT director at The London Clinic, said: "For us, the movement is away from this type of device. We are looking at tablets and specific devices like barcode readers and RFID wands", and Graham Yellowley, technology lead equities at financial clearing house LCH, said: "iPads are the new corporate tool, not Ultrabooks."

Mike Wright, head of technology, Man Group, said there is currently "no business use" and no great demand from staff for Ultrabooks.

However, some CIOs are interested in the new hardware. Jürgen Renfer, CIO at German insurance organisation Kommunale Unfallversicherung Bayern, said: "We plan to roll out some for the VIP and VIP-VIP users, but [we're still] waiting for a second generation of them: lower prices and early-adopter issues will be fixed."

And Afonso Caetano, CIO at J Macêdo, said: "Here in Brazil there is still no availability of models or suppliers as desired to allow an appropriate choice for the company-wide adoption. On the other hand, we will start with an introduction of some machines for use by board of directors as soon as possible."

This week's TechRepublic CIO Jury is:

  • Ian Auger, head of IT and communications, ITN
  • Madhushan Gokool, IT manager, Storm Models
  • Gavin Megnauth, director of operations, Morgan Hunt
  • Kevin Quealy, director of information services and facilities, Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia
  • Jürgen Renfer, CIO, Kommunale Unfallversicherung Bayern
  • Mike Roberts, IT director, The London Clinic
  • Tim Stiles, CIO at Bremerton Housing Authority
  • Richard Storey, head of IT at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.
  • James Salmon, CIO, BPP Group & University College
  • David Thomson, IT and communications manager at Rice & Dore Associates.
  • Mike Wright, head of technology, Man Group
  • Graham Yellowley, technology lead equities at financial clearing house LCH

Want to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury and have your say on the hot issues for IT decision-makers? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company, working in the private sector or in government, and you want to join TechRepublic's CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should, then get in contact.

Either click the Contact link below or email me, steve dot ranger at techrepublic dot com, and send your name, title, company, location, and email address.


Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of silicon.com.


One of the CIOs said no ultrabooks because we use laptops and tablets. Does he mean a laptop or a tablet or a laptop and a tablet? If it's the latter, how short-sighted. A laptop and a tablet combined cost more than the average ultrabook. If it's the formet than he, well that's poor customer service. He should at least give people the choice and ask them to put their money where their mouth is.

Spiny Norman
Spiny Norman

...and I love it. So much that I leave my fat Elitebook in the office and lug the Folio home every night. For those who actually want to take a productive computer with them as they travel, these things are wonderful! If you primarily use Office productivity products and you need to be able to compose real email messages, documents, or spreadsheets, the Ultrabooks are a godsend. Despite the hype, that kind of WORK is not practical on a tablet. I own an iPad; it is fun and even useful, but it cannot replace a laptop for facilitating the kind of work that I spend my day on. My only complaint is that nobody seems to make an Ultrabook with a real docking station.


The CIOs can always buy those ultrab ooks announced by Acer. You get an ultrabook that lacks an optical drive [not a huge thing], just 2 USB ports, SATA hard disk instead of SSD and [in some cases] using an older Sandy chipset and CPU instead of the latest. That would cut the costs down. :-) Seen the Lenovo X-1 ultrabooks. Light. Nice but a glossy screen. Odd configurations for disk and memory. One memory slot [choose amount of memory at purchase time wisely!].


Anyone who does any type of travel for a business, even if it is just away from the office to a client site, can appreciate the weight savings of an Ultrabook over a traditional notebook. They can fit inside a briefcase or large purse, together with a tablet and some papers. As for "insufficient power," these things have Ivy Bridge processors. How much power do you need to run PowerPoint, Excel, Word, and the corporate Intranet?


The ridiculously fashionable and thus over-priced Apple products are the result of a simple human fact: Apple buyers are people of "fashion". To a technologist, their products are very low value - but definitely cute. A female product. Marketed brilliantly in the early years by a famed Ad Agency who understood women and how they respond. For all those companies trying to follow Apple, it is too late. Even Apple can't force their share of market above that 8% who buy on fashion/ego. AND if the peasantry (natural value buyers) could afford them, what's the point of owning one? Apple buyers respond to fashion. The tech/peasant world responds to innovation/value. However: The final change for all of us is that the party is over. The West-world's credit card is maxed out. It will only be the VERY rich who can afford to be fashionable in the future. People will buy coats to keep warm - not to wow their friends.......

Kieron Seymour-Howell
Kieron Seymour-Howell

All too often I see business people with flimsy plastic laptops that are cracked, have loose hinges, and provide little or no radiation shielding. Computer hardware, is just like quality tool for any trade. You want something that can survive some bumps and scrapes. You want something that is somewhat dirt and moisture resistant. Try to avoid consumer level components that are designed to fail or be tossed away after a few years. Would you buy the cheapest car to represent yourself and to rely on? No, I doubt it. Ultrabook design solves the three biggest weaknesses of consumer marketed hardware: 1)-Little or no radiation protection and low structural integrity; a metal frame and case solves all that. 2)-Delicate data storage hardware means a serious liability to you and your company, SSD solves that. 3)Bad designs that allow dirt and dust to enter the system, or relying on fans instead of metal heat sinking for critical component cooling as in a plastic case design. Not to mention unnecessary hardware, heavy clumsy cases, and notoriously short battery life as is found in consumer designed equipment.

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