House of the Flying Ultrabook(tm): Searching for the Mother of All Ultrabooks(tm)

In search of the mythical flying dragon Ultrabook(tm)

(Update: this ad ran as a preview to The Avengers last night. I get where they are going with the humor, but again, my question is, battery life? Seriously, this ad screams “Go out and buy a MacBook AIR.” Or if you really need to run Windows, one of these other brands.)

You’ve got to laugh at some of the lengths technology companies will go to get us to notice their latest and greatest products. Intel has been putting money behind the Ultrabook(tm) idea for a while now. And while it’s not as catchy as “Intel Inside” they are looking to show the real value of their new line of microprocessors. They may focus on the wrong feature in this ad, but it is funny.

And while humor often doesn’t really equal sales, Intel’s branding campaign is not about pushing individual laptop sales. The millions Intel is spending on Ultrabook(tm) branding is intended to help both Intel’s overall chip sales, AND hopefully drive incremental sales of every manufacturer’s Ultrabook(tm) branded models.

Well, something odd happens in the ad, that I can’t quite explain.

What is Intel's Flying Dragon Ultrabook?
click to view on

While the ad oddly focuses on battery life (is this still a huge issue for people?). It’s not the most pressing issue on my laptop, but that’s me. [Note: while laptops age the battery is the first to deteriorate. My first thought after watching the ad is: Perhaps a new battery makes more sense than buying an Ultrabook(tm).]

The real amazing part comes in the middle of the video when the woman appears to be happily using an Ultrabook. The thing looks amazingly like a Macbook AIR with some of the main features photoshopped out. In good faith I went searching for the Flying Dragon Ultrabook(tm) only to discover the major manufacturers were not showing anything like the one in the video. Sure, Intel doesn’t want to hype Dell over HP, they are both paying customers, but the allusive laptop in the video is a mystery.

What happens for me however, when I look at the comically HUGE “not-ultrabooks” in the ad, is I make that same comical leap to the laptop the woman is using, “I still have hours of battery life.” She may be a ghost using a laptop from the future that doesn’t even need to be plugged in. But her promise does not appear any more substantial than the women with the massive laptops. They are all mystery brands in Intel’s fantasy world.

The HUGE laptops in Intel's Ultrabook ads

Maybe I go on about nothing. But the ad is popular and is being paid with a lot of corporate branding dollars both from Intel and the “ultrabook” dependant manufacturers. An interesting concept, is that Apple is about to release their redesigned MacBook Pro line this summer, and I bet there is not a peep about Ultrabooks(tm) at that time. But of course, Apple is not beholden to Intel for their “Intel Inside” dollars or sticker advertising either.

In a level playing field where every manufacturer has Intel’s latest processor, who is Intel marketing to? Are they simply trying to drive the sales cycle, and convince the buying public that it is time for a new computer, since your battery sucks? Not the most compelling argument. And of course the industry and manufacturers need consumers to “refresh” their computers regularly.

I would advise the non-Apple manufacturers to look to something innovative in their design or ergonomics rather than counting on the mothership of Intel to provide leadership and marketing support. After all, they cannot claim that any of their children are prettier than the others. And as demonstrated in this ad, they cannot even use a real ultrabook(tm) to show how awesome an ultrabook(tm) might be.

If you have any ideas on the brand of the Flying Dragon Ultrabook(tm), please let me know directly or in the comments.

WATCH THE AD: Intel’s House of the Flying Dragon Ultrabook Ad

The slide above is available on House of the Flying Dragon Ultrabook(tm)

Reference: David Pogue’s Ultrabook Post:  A Bevy of Beauties, and So PC And the quote of the article, “What’s An Ultrabook – A MacBook Air that runs Windows.”

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

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