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Industry has been slow to respond to Apple's Macbook Air: Juniper

Ultrabooks are expect to grow three times the rate of tablets, but tablet volume will remain higher for the next five years

The tablet market is going to face some stiff competition from Ultrabooks over the next five years, according to analyst firm, Juniper Research.

The new report, titled Ultrabooks & Mobile Computing - Strategies & Forecasts 2012-2016, predicts that shipments of Ultrabooks will grow three times compared to tablets over the next five years. While 178 million Ultrabooks are expected to be shipped in 2016, the fact is that this number is still expected to be dwarfed by shipments of 253 million tablets.

An interesting finding the report made was that despite the glut of tablets competing for Apple's iPad crown, vendors have been slow to respond to the release of the ultra thin Macbook Air in 2008.

"Leading vendors only launched the first Ultrabooks, a new category in mobile computing driven by the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer, Intel, in late 2011," report author, Daniel Ashdown, said.

While the industry is buzzing after the reveal of new products at CES, the report still foresees a number of challenges that need to be overcome by the industry.

"As we have seen in the tablet market, without products which are significantly differentiated from those of Apple in terms of price and features, gaining traction for its competitors is a difficult value proposition," Ashdown added.

Intel's Ultrabook branding has helped the thin and compact notebooks stand out from traditional ones, though Juniper's report has discovered that vendors still need to come to grips with the product strategy.

Specifically, the issue vendors have stems from Intel's specification and how it helps to secure brand status and funding, and how it has made many of today's Ultrabooks too expensive for many consumers.

Other key discoveries in the report include vendors augmenting solid state drives in Ultrabooks with hard disk drives or cloud storage in the long term for superior performance at a price, and that Microsoft's latest operating system refresh, Windows 8, will be the catalyst to drive mass market Ultrabook adoption thanks to features such as extended battery life and always-on-always-connected capability.

As for the future outlook of Netbooks, Juniper has foreseen shipments to only comprise a third of today's volumes by 2016.

The popularity of Tablets, as well as low-cost, high performance notebooks, is expected to further cannabalise the segment which experience a brief spate of popularity a few years ago.

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