Intel is reportedly responding to pressure over pricing on its Ultrabook-certified components, offering OEMs and ODMs a reported $100 'marketing subsidy' as rumours mount over AMD's plans for ultra-slim hardware.
The Ultrabook project - also known as the give-everyone-what-we-gave-Apple-a-year-earlier project - is Intel's answer to the growing threat from ARM in the ultraportable market: 13mm-thick laptops offering a full Core i5 or i7 processor and a wodge of RAM for a desktop-like experience in a truly portable package.
It's a tempting proposition, but one that has a major stumbling block: the damn things are just too expensive.
For those who require performance, a thicker - but still portable - laptop can be had for half the price, while those looking for extreme portability can get their hands on a high-end tablet like the Asus Transformer or Apple iPad 2 for around the same price. The result: it's possible to buy a laptop and a tablet for the cost of a single Ultrabook.
The OEMs and ODMs creating Ultrabooks - Toshiba, HP, Lenovo, Asus, Acer and others - are somewhat stuck, however: high prices demanded by Intel for the Ultrabook-compatible low-power processors mean they can't drop the pricing too far without risking selling at a loss.
Realising that the Ultrabook project is of no use if nobody buys the intial products - and, possibly, in response to increasing rumours that AMD, originally a competitor for the MacBook Air contract with Apple, is planning some ultra-slim processors of its very own - Intel is reportedly offering its customers a discount in the form of a $100 'marketing subsidy' for each Ultrabook manufactured.
Although unconfirmed by Intel - which, as usual, doesn't comment on "rumours or speculation" - Taiwanese rumour-monger DigiTimes (opens in new tab) claims that sources in the supply chain have confirmed the subsidy, along with planned retail price cuts of between five and 10 per cent in the first quarter of next year.
If true, it could be the start of what Intel needs to do to make the Ultrabook project a success - but a ten per cent retail price cut will likely make little impact on sales of the expensive devices unless it's followed by deeper discounts or improved specifications.