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Wal-Mart to Offer Components for DIY Computers 434

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-thats-kinda-neat dept.
FearTheFrail writes "Reuters reports that Wal-Mart is preparing to put "build your own computer counters" in 1200 of its 3200 stores, with plans to do so in at least 1400 by the end of the year. Maybe this will bring on an influx of new hardware enthusiasts, along with plenty of horror stories about attempted computer assembly. Do you think this will have an effect on the OEM parts market? And what about the operating systems to be offered? Will Wal-Mart shoppers migrate to Linux in order to save a hundred bucks or more, or will they even have the chance?"
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Wal-Mart to Offer Components for DIY Computers

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  • Oh no (Score:5, Funny)

    by saskboy (600063) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:16PM (#15257911) Homepage Journal
    I can see it now:
    Customer - "The computer memory won't upgrade."

    Walmart - "What was the problem?"

    Customer - "I put it inside the CDROM drive and didn't get any more hard drive space."

    Walmart - "Alrighty then."
    • So nothings going to change.
    • Re:Oh no (Score:2, Insightful)

      by July 21, 2006 (968634)
      The Walmart employee making minimum wage with no health care or retirement plan would have actually said, "Sounds like you followed the directions precisely. Must be defective. Take it up with the manufacturer."
      • Re:Oh no (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cayenne8 (626475)
        "The Walmart employee making minimum wage with no health care or retirement plan..."

        So...go out and get a REAL job. Jobs like this are for the HS and college kid crowd.

        If you've over 30 and still wear a 'name tag', you've made some SERIOUS vocational errors along the way...

    • reminds me (Score:4, Funny)

      by xmodem_and_rommon (884879) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:30PM (#15258017)
      I have a friend who will remain anonyous (oh, but he reads slashdot) who tried to put together his own omputer one time.

      I told him to wait till I got there, but no, he had to "get started" on it

      When I got there, I found the motherboard screwed to the side of the case. As in, he hadn't screwed down the little "riser" things you put in first. When I pointed out to him that his whole computer would exploode in a glorius display of sparks the second he applied power, he stated incredulously, "i wondered what those were for"

      I expect that telling everyday people they can build their own computer will get a lot of idiots who just want to save a few bucks trying it, and making all kinds of mistakes which, to the uninformed seem perfectly logical.
      • Re:reminds me (Score:3, Interesting)

        by billcopc (196330)
        I used to love that kind of idiot. When I was working retail, there was a 30$ assembly charge for any PC, big or small. A lot of the white-trash movie-copying crowd were so cheap they'd take their 199$ PC in parts and build it themselves. A lot of them came back the next day with an improperly mounted and very dead board. I had one guy who left the CPU fan unplugged "because it was too noisy", then accused me of selling him an overclocked CPU "because only overclocked chips overheat". I took his invoic
    • Re:Oh no (Score:5, Funny)

      by foundme (897346) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:31PM (#15258018) Homepage
      Well, I think most joe users are sick of jokes like this. Whenever something goes wrong, it's always, always the users' fault!

      Why can't companies make more user-friendly products, so if you do put a memory module into the CDROM, it will install it for you, and spit out the old stick if there isn't enough room.
      • by saskboy (600063)
        "so if you do put a memory module into the CDROM, it will install it for you, and spit out the old stick if there isn't enough room."

        They already make it able to hold your coffee, you can't expect miracles you know.

        Your joke had me laughing louder than I should in an office, even though I'm done work for today.

  • How odd... (Score:5, Funny)

    by penguinstorm (575341) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:18PM (#15257919) Homepage
    For years, we shipped assembly off shore to factories where people would work for 20 cents an hour. From these economic theory, Wal-Mart was born.

    Now, they're shipping the labour back here.

    Perhaps in future, Wal-Mart will offer sew-it-yourself clothing as well? They could market it as a sweat shop tourist attraction!
    • by geoffspear (692508) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:21PM (#15257962) Homepage
      Wal-Mart already sells fabric, sewing machines, and patterns.

      I don't believe they have any sweatshop-related marketing for them, though.

    • Re:How odd... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MrShaggy (683273) <chris.anderson@NoSPAm.hush.com> on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:34PM (#15258043) Journal
      You might want to watch 'the high cost, of the low price of Walmart'. It is a very insightful and educating look at walmarts practices.
      • Re:How odd... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Chanc_Gorkon (94133)
        And it's very negative too. Walmart is just A STORE! It happens to be the biggest store, but its no worse then when Kmart was much bigger then it is now. Hey...by the way....MOST stuff here in the states,,,,sold in Walmart or Target or wherever was probably made in China. Walmart did not pioneer that process. :P
        • Re:How odd... (Score:2, Insightful)

          by MrShaggy (683273)
          I am assuming that you have seen it? It isnt just how they treat their foreign workers, but how they treat thier North-American ones as well. They spend all this time and money on market research. They know where and how close together to make the store sell. Every store makes well over a million dollars in sales a year. The only store that they closed, was one in Quebec. They said that it was no longer profitable. The real reason is that people were able to start a union in that aparticualr store. Does
          • Re:How odd... (Score:5, Informative)

            by gfxguy (98788) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @09:10PM (#15259030)
            The only store that they closed, was one in Quebec. They said that it was no longer profitable. The real reason is that people were able to start a union in that aparticualr store. Doesnt that seem odd?

            In defense of WalMart, it is certainly quite possible that the workers becoming unionized and demanding more could make a store not profitable. It's debateably what is causing the headaches some of our domestic auto producers are having.

            Meanwhile, my Honda was built by Americans in East Liberty Ohio by non-unionized workers. It's better quality, higher resale value, more dependable then the Ford built in Mexico, and the Honda workers are better paid and quite happy. Just a mini-rant against unions... I simply don't think they serve a purpose anymore.

            Besides, WalMart is obligated to no one to even give a reason for closing a store. What difference would it make if they simply came out and said "we didn't want a store with a union?"

            That said, in offense of WalMart, the problem I have is they sell inferior products. Even the brand names often make lower quality products to satisfy WalMart's price demands or risk getting locked out of the largest retailer in the country. As an example, Sears sells Levi Strauss jeans, but WalMart sells Levi Strauss "Signature Series". An unsuspecting customer might think he's getting the same product for less... or hey! "Signature Series!" Maybe it's even better! But those jeans are lower quality for volume retailers like WalMart.

            Every once in a while Sam's Club will have $25 Rebocks. For some reason they don't last as long as the $35 pair I got at the Rebock outlet store... about half as long.

            Electronics are the same way.

            Yes, some of the products are the same thing, and might sell for cheaper, but they are subsidized by all the lower priced crap that is actually making Walmart a larger profit. I am a member of Sam's club, and bought several cheap HP PSC printers there... they all broke or were not functioning 100% correctly within a year after purchase. I only have one left and it won't scan anymore. So I spent twice as much on a Cannon printer from Newegg that's been running great. From now on, at Sam's, I will stick to things where quality either doesn't matter, or when I know it to be a like product.. things like books and PS2 games.

            So I have a feeling we'll be seeing the same thing. A DVD ROM drive that only works until the warranty expires, cheap fans that will give out before a year is up (possibly ruining other components). Repackaged IBM "Deathstar" drives WalMart got for next to nothing. Power supplies that will cause major headaches when the user can't figure out why his computer randomly locks up.

            And like many others what I've noticed is that, for many things, buying the more expensive product saves you money in the long run... so WalMart really is taking advantage of the people who don't know any better.
            • Unions (Score:3, Insightful)

              by airship (242862)
              The reason non-union automakers pay so well is because theirs is a traditionally unionized industry, and they know if they're not competitive, the workers will likely vote in a union. So it's thanks to the unions that they have decent jobs.
    • Perhaps in future, Wal-Mart will offer sew-it-yourself clothing as well?

      Many years ago, when I was growing up, lots of Wal-Mart-like department stores had extensive fabric departments...

  • by nizo (81281) * on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:18PM (#15257920) Homepage Journal
    I wish Walmart would start selling self-assembled microwaves for $10. Talk about a quick way to clear out some of the genetic driftwood in this country.
  • by RLiegh (247921) * on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:19PM (#15257936) Homepage Journal
    Wal-mart already offers computers without windows (with linspire, last I checked), so that's not an issue. What is an issue is that everything that wal-mart sells is on the, shall we say, low-end. I strongly doubt that Wal-mart will offer any hardware that people who are DIYers will find compelling, and if by some chance they do, the DIY crowd will probably look at other, cheaper outlets where they can get quality hardware for less than what walmart offers it (assuming, as I've said, they offer it at all).
    • Wal-mart will buy in such large bulk that they can afford to retail their hardware at a very low profit margin. If the DIY idea doesn't fly, they'll use them as a loss leader till they run out of stock. The gear will no doubt be bottom of the line, but I doubt anyone who can't buy 1m+ units will be able to compete on pure cost.
    • the DIY crowd will probably look at other, cheaper outlets

      So you think Wal-mart is going to lose on price? That's the one area where they pretty much never lose.

      Assuming they really do this, I'd expect them to be pretty much unbeatable for low-end parts. You'll probably be able to get parts cheaper on-line, but not much cheaper by the time you factor in shipping.

      I'm not sure how much typical mom and pop computers stores make off of low-end stuff, vs how much of their profit comes from the higher en

      • You just re-made my point, though. No, walmart won't be beat on price simply because they'll be offering (in your words) low-end parts for super cheap. Parts that I don't see the DIY crowd bothering with. Hell anyone who wanted to save on price would probably not bother with a DIY computer and would instead either get a pre-built, or a used one (either from a shop or from someplace such as retrobox.com).

        As far as I can tell, anyone who wants to build their own would probably know enough to want better parts
        • Parts that I don't see the DIY crowd bothering with.

          But I build my own specifically in order to get the machines as inexpensively as possible, and I use the cheapest parts that I think can do the job adequately. I'm just one anecdote, of course, but I think there are plenty of DIYers who DIY in order to keep the price down, rather than to have the most pimped out box possible.

      • Assuming they really do this, I'd expect them to be pretty much unbeatable for low-end parts.

        I'm sure they'll have unbeatable prices for 5400rpm 5.25" harddrives.
        • I'm sure they'll have unbeatable prices for 5400rpm 5.25" harddrives.

          As long as they're at least 500GB, I'll buy a couple.

          • >I'm sure they'll have unbeatable prices for 5400rpm 5.25" harddrives.

            As long as they're at least 500GB, I'll buy a couple.


            Yeah, if you change that GB to MB, and divide the 500 by 10, you might have a chance. :)

            I just checked Newegg to see what the most low-tech HD they have in stock - a 5400rpm 3.5" 20GB ATA100 drive. Awesome.

            I have another 400GB drive arriving this weekend, which will put my system up to 1.25TB (pre-formatted, of course). w00t! (thank you, Netflix, for the unbearable need for massive a
            • Yeah, if you change that GB to MB, and divide the 500 by 10, you might have a chance. :)

              LOL

              Give it a year, though. You can already get 200GB drives at Wal-mart.

              I have another 400GB drive arriving this weekend, which will put my system up to 1.25TB (pre-formatted, of course)

              What, your drives change size when you format them?

            • All of the Wal-Mart stores in my area already sell large, decent hard drives. Actually, I think they only brand they stock is Seagate and the smallest one they have is 120 GB and they have a 400+ one too. Not bad prices either really...not as good as the post-rebate prices at more specialized retailers, but not bad.
    • by utlemming (654269) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:56PM (#15258190) Homepage
      Maybe not for the computer nerd. But for the nerd that is fixing someone else's computer this may be a dream come true. In smaller towns where there isn't a computer shop, or where the computer shop charges such outrageous fees, it could provide a cost effective, fast way to fix a computer. I can think of countless times that I have been fixing a friend's computer and the computer places are closed. Half the time I fix someone's computer I throw in a component that I wouldn't use in my own computer -- i.e. a low end video card, etc. With Wal-mart providing the low end components that your looking for, at a cheap price, why not?

      But I would seriously expect the products at Wal-mart and the small business guy not to compare well. Big-box stores like Wal-mart, Home Depot, etc, are known for playing games with margins. For example if your looking at items like garden products, there is a product for Wal-mart and one for everyone else -- don't believe me, go into your local nursery and look at the Scott's lawn fertilizer, and then go to Wal-mart. The products will compare differently on ingredients, volume, percentages and prices. But they packaging will look nearly exactly the same, except for the declarations which will be different. For real kicks, ask the nurseryman what the difference is between what Wal-mart has and the nursery. So if Wal-mart can take something that is really expensive out or reduce it, then Wal-mart can lower the price and kill competition on margin. When I was working at as a Garden Center manager I wouldn't even compete with Wal-mart on anything they sold. The products would look exactly the same, but when you looks at the specs, they are very different. But Joe Sixpack doesn't know the difference and half the time care. So why would I carry something that will be twice as expensive as Wal-mart if the customer doesn't care enough to find out why I was more expensive? Wal-mart pushed me to carry high to elite-end (i.e. golf course grade) grade products and it allowed me to make the company a lot of money.

      What I found was that Wal-mart carrying the low end products brought me more business. People would stop there, and then come and see me. I attended a workshop that says that Wal-mart and other big box stores will actually increase business in the long run if the small business can survive the first three years. After the first three years, business will bounce back. But the key is that the small businesses need to provide an expert that people can talk to.

      I could see the same thing happening in computer parts. Some joe who wants to do computers, stops at Wal-mart and figures out the guy behind the counter couldn't care less. Since they already have the thought about doing computers, they go to the shop that knows what they are doing. If the shop doesn't have the elitist attitude and is willing to help the guy learn a small business could make a lot of money of Wal-mart's idea.
    • These things are always worth getting cheap (IMHO, ones about as good as another):
      -ethernet card
      -sound card (unless you're keen on recording, like me)
      -memory readers
      -bluetooth cards

      These things are easily commodity (cheaper but not lower quality if shipped/manufactured in bulk):
      -memory
      -CPU fans
      -power supplies
      -cases

      And CPUs are generally each their own little niche market, so people will ge
    • The walmarts around the Sillicon Valley area already sell ATI and NVidia cards, although they're all in the $40 - $100 range -- you won't find the newest quad SLI cards, or anything of the sort.

      They also sell a few wireless network cards, both PCI and PCMCIA.
  • I don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Loligo (12021) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:19PM (#15257943) Homepage

    Why wouldn't Wal-Mart customers "have a chance" to install Linux? Do they connect to a different internet than everyone else? Are they banned from entering computer and book stores?

    Or are you asking if Wal-Mart will be carrying boxed RedHat distros?

    It's never been about consumers having a CHANCE to install Linux, it's been about them having the CHOICE to, and like it or not, most consumers CHOOSE not to.

      -l
    • I have a feeling AOL will release a LiveCD distro that gets the user online right away, and of course it's only AOL that can work on the computer. People might wonder why they can't play games in the CDROM drive, but many won't.
    • by stinerman (812158) <nathan DOT stine AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @07:02PM (#15258234) Homepage
      Are they banned from entering computer and book stores?

      Well, "book learnin'" never was the forté of many a Wal-Mart customer.
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by vtcodger (957785) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @03:51AM (#15260550)
      ***Why wouldn't Wal-Mart customers "have a chance" to install Linux? Do they connect to a different internet than everyone else? Are they banned from entering computer and book stores?***

      Reason 1 -- WalMart may not want most customers using Linux because Linux hardware support and detection still is somewhere between Windows 95 and Windows 98 in terms of maturity. That's not all that good. Poor Plug and Play means returns and that costs money. Maybe, if they make it clear that they do not support equipment not purchased from WalMart, they can offer a Linux distribution that is tested with the hardware they sell.

      My last experience with Installing Linux -- Slackware 10.2

      • The display, mouse, and keyboard actually installed and worked right without tweaking(The second time this has happened. Progress IS being made).
      • BUT
        • NIC (an NE2000 clone) wasn't detected and had to be insmodded
        • HP 3670 Scanner not supported
        • INTEL QX3 microscope detected, but the option to control the lights doesn't work. And when I finally got around to installing Web camera software to use the imaging, that doesn't work either.
        • Sound Card -- detected and makes noises, but they aren't remotely the right noises.
        • CUPS -- The network aspects work, but would surely be impossible for a non-geek to configure. Of more importance to me, it generates a garbled PCL header that causes my HP-IIP to demand A4 paper. However, the printout is truncated to A4 size (unusable), not scaled to A4 size (which would be not quite as bad).. And, BTW, this whole idea of using HTTP to configure things really needs more work before it is turned loose on unsupecting users. e.g. turn page caching of the configuration pages OFF dammit.
        • SAMBA -- I got it running without a lot of trouble, but I think a non-geek would probably be in real trouble.
        • I somehow ended up with a 4mb swap file. This produced a truly spectacular swapping storm when I installed KDE and started up a few tasks. This particular problem may have been self inflicted in some fashion that a non-geek wouldn't blunder into.
        • I was able to detect, mount, and use USB flash memory pen drives, but the process wasn't even remotely a Windows plug and play experience.

      IMO **ANY** of the above except maybe the Intel QX3 which is a discontinued product that a non-geek probably wouldn't expect to work would be enough to think twice about selling non-geeks Linux over the counter.

      Reason 2 -- Boxed software products like TaxCut, games, mapping programs often won't run on Linux even if it has WINE. Explaining to customers why not would be painful and many wouldn't understand. Why ask for pain?

      I'm not against selling Linux to non-geeks, but I think that the right place to start is single purpose machines -- e.g. A real cheap web browsing PC with a bundled printer.

  • by Caeda (669118) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:20PM (#15257946)
    Walmart is going to sell Towers, Monitors, Keyboards, Mice, and Speakers seperately. Not the individule hardware pieces of the tower. Can't anyone read articles before posting them?
    • But how will we get our frosty pists if we are reading the article? Much better to come up with some ill-informed off the cuff remark based on a cursory glance at the summary.
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:51PM (#15258159)
      On /., reading first is **cheating**!
    • Actually, the article is rather ambiguous: Such components include central processing units -- the brain of the computer that powers its basic functions -- as well as monitors, keyboards and mice that customers can combine to create customized packages they can load in a shopping cart and take home right away.

      It could be that the article was written by/for someone unfamiliar with buying computers by the component, or it could be that the program is as you say. I'm more inclined to believe they're actually
  • Wow! (Score:5, Funny)

    by AriaStar (964558) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:20PM (#15257949) Journal
    Cheap clothing, food, plans to open a bank, computers.... Is there nothing Wal-Mart doesn't provide aside from living wages, benefits, and dignified to its employees?
  • by Sylver Dragon (445237) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:21PM (#15257958) Journal
    From the article, this just sounds like the "customize it" button on Dell's web site, not the PC Club style, "here's your parts, go fo it." Moreover, this could be really good for small computer shops. I don't see anything about Wal-Mart supporting those PC's. So, a few months after purchase, and two kids who know computers later, the owner will still have to go get the adware removed by someone.
    • From the article, this just sounds like the "customize it" button on Dell's web site, not the PC Club style, "here's your parts, go fo it."

      Correct, although this is several degrees simpler than Dell, which lets you configure the most inane aspect of a system. The exact quote:

      Wal-Mart currently offers only prepackaged bundles of personal computers and accessories in most of its stores. With the build-your-own-computer counters, shoppers can choose between several different components. Such components

    • "here's your parts, go fo it."

      Need clarification. Was that supposed to mean "go for it" or "go foo it"?
    • Don't forget #9 either.
  • What Wintel never did? Eliminate compeltely incompatible hardware? Could the market prowess finally force hardware manufacturers to a single and consistent standard?

    The good news is that Walmart porbably can. The bad news is that the standard will likely suck.

  • by stevew (4845) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:24PM (#15257979) Journal
    I live in Fremont, CA where we have a brand spanking new Walmart accross the street from a Frys store. I can't imagine they can compete with a major chain store like Frys at component level sales?

    This would be interesting.
    • by HaeMaker (221642) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:32PM (#15258028) Homepage
      Sure they can. They have better customer service!
      • They have better customer service

        Hmmm +1 Funny, or +1 Insightfull, or -1 Troll

        So many moderations, so few mod points

      • No joke. In my experience, Frys has invisible customer service reps, ridiculously long lines, and they aren't all that cheap. Wal-Mart has invisible customer service reps, slightly shorter lines, and would presumably be cheaper.

        Frys, on the other hand, has an enormous selection of geek toys. Wal-Mart can't hope to compete with Frys on selection, but then offering a wide selection has never been WalMart's forte.
        • You must not be familiar with the Illinois Fry's. The service is great, the lines are short, and the prices aren't bad. Of course, if you were going to buy computer parts in the Chicago area, you could just go to one of the two TigerDirect stores. I've been to both. Tiger's store is small (but you can get everything they sell there. It's attached to the warehouse.) Fry's has a larger variety of products though.
      • Fry's has greeters. At the exit. Checking your receipts. Because you know people walk out of there all the time with refrigerators they didn't pay for.
        • The door nazis are not there looking for shoplifters. They're there looking for co-conspirators in employee theft. Take a bunch of expensive stuff to the cashier (who is in on it), pay for the candy bar only, and walk out with thousands in free stuff.

          That's why they compare what's in the bag to what's on the receipt.

          When you let them. It's not like you can't tell 'em to stuff it, after all.
    • If they're smart, they'll do like they did with their SuperCenters (WalMarts with a grocery store attached). They won't open them in areas that are already saturated with grocery stores, they will open them in the more rural areas that only have a handful of grocery stores.

      A WalMart next to a Fry's probably wouldn't sell many computer components, but a WalMart in a rural town with no other computer stores would.
    • Frys' has customer service? I thought that was against their corporate policy... In any event, there's no way WalMart is going to stock components like Frys (chips, connectors, etc.). They'll just have a selection of mix-and-match major components (case with mb installed, hard drive, keyboard, etc.). All things that their customers can pay the 12-year old next door to snap together in 15 minutes.

      Not exactly Heathkit....
    • Note that the Fry brothers got their start in the supermarket business.

      Then one day they sold their supermarkets and opened a computer store which also sold soda and potato chips. Not too far removed from what Wal-Mart is planning, perhaps.
    • I can't imagine they can compete with a major chain store like Frys at component level sales

      I think you overestimate the size of Frys. They hardly exist outside of California. In the tech mecca of the Seattle area, there is a grand total of ONE store, and it's prices really aren't any better for most things than Newegg, even when you take shipping & tax into account. Plus it's in a pretty horrible location for most people in the area.

      Now think about how many locations Wal-Mart has around the country, an
  • Proper Spin: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alaren (682568) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:24PM (#15257982)

    So, not satisfied with "virtually" free foreign labor, Wal-Mart now seeks to cut costs by having domestic labor assemble their own computers for free?

    I'm only half-kidding, really... but I do wonder. How much more time does it take to properly assemble a barebones computer with everything on-board, than to properly package a "do-it-yourself" computer kit? I'll continue to buy my stuff from NewEgg, while most end-users are already so intimidated by computers that I don't see this taking off.

    But I am not a marketing visionary, so what do I know? Maybe it will be a cool new hobby...

  • by bogidu (300637)
    . . . millions of voices cried out in terror, and then suddenly silenced.
    • Why, did the Walmarters install Linux and can't boot now, and can't find out how to switch back to Windows?

      I'd consider that not the worst that could happen to the net...
  • as long as they sell major brands (like HP/Compaq or Gateway).

    In fact, I MUCH prefer this model where you can semi-customize your own PC from a range of well-defined options. Beats the hell out of CompUSA or Best Buy where you have to take whatever configuration they have have on the shelf.

    I'd bet they get exclusive distribution rights to some major brand like Gateway and then sell them at 30% below everyone else's computer.

    Don't underestimate the power of WalMart to sell anything to the masses.
  • by Glowing Fish (155236) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:30PM (#15258015) Homepage
    "good for Wal-Mart".
    I know that lots of people are going to give theories about what nefarious motivations Wal-Mart might have for doing this. (and then a lot of people are going to fire back saying 'this is how the market works, pinko!)
    But I see this as just trying to create a new market for something that people might want. It is weird that we don't have more computer parts stores: after all, it is easy to find mass-marketed auto parts stores, and working on a computer is a lot easier than working on a car. This is just giving people a chance to be able to practice some new technical skills themselves.
    Its weird that this hasn't caught on before. When I was in Taiwan, two years ago, I visited the computer market in Tainan, and in most of the stores, including some major ones, they had about as much DIY stuff (that was labelled DIY), as they had pre-made stuff. I feel Americans should be at the front of the world in gear-headism.
    • by pla (258480) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @07:06PM (#15258255) Journal
      It is weird that we don't have more computer parts stores

      Not at all... The sort of people who have the skills neeeded to build their own computers (when I say "skills", while we might consider throwing together a PC from known-compatible parts as nearly trivial, keep in mind that most people conflate memory with HDDs and while their video cards might come with 512MB, they don't understand that they can't upgrade their monitor to 1GB) also have the skills to get the best price for the best parts online.

      Why don't you see more parts stores? Because they can't compete. Sure, you have the occasional semi-literate person who will buy a cable or two, but actually building a system? No.


      As for Walmart's "great" prices... True story. A few months back I desperately needed a new HDD ASAP for a project at work. Even overnighting it wouldn't suffice, so I went to WallyWorld, figuring they'd have something that would work.

      Well, at the risk of a mixed-metaphorical-double-entendre, size didn't matter, but I didn't expect to raped so hard regardless.

      I ended up paying $90 for a 60GB Seagate (ATA133, mind you, not some high-end SCSI deal). Seriously. At the time, I could have bought the same thing online for half the price, or gotten a 200GB for the same price.


      So... Geeks will keep shopping for parts online (for the majority of us not lucky enough to have a Fry's in-state), and sheep will keep buying preconfigured Dells. This new "trend" merely gives a new option to the sheep who have learned not to fear the sun rising every morning. But as they say... "Even if you win the Special Olympics, you're still a retard".
  • Maybe? (Score:5, Funny)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:31PM (#15258022)
    Maybe this will bring on an influx of new hardware enthusiasts, along with plenty of horror stories about attempted computer assembly. ...Will Wal-Mart shoppers migrate to Linux in order to save a hundred bucks or more, or will they even have the chance?

    Yea, yea! And maybe they will all be nympomaniac blondes with huge bimbos that will be ready to do anything if you show them how to properly install a SLI video card setup on their home-made PC-s?

    And they will be easily impressed when you show them your mad Perl skills?

    ----

    Or maybe it'll create a small niche market for the already existing geeks and not change much of anything.

    We can always dream though, that's what Slashdot is for.
    • ea, yea! And maybe they will all be nympomaniac blondes with huge bimbos that will be ready to do anything if you show them how to properly install a SLI video card setup on their home-made PC-s?

      And they will be easily impressed when you show them your mad Perl skills?


      Dude, chicks aren't impressed by mad perl skills - chicks like Ruby.
  • like PC club and all that. If you know about wal-mart's business practices, this pretty much spells doom for small PC shops (if they still are alive). This might be good at first, as wal-mart's tactics consist of selling good parts for cheap at first then moving towards lower end parts and charging more, once their competition has gone away.

    But since most of us buy our components online, will this really affect *US* that much? I think not.

    But, not to be ..... but if you like to scam walmart, geez... the

  • by Senzei (791599) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:42PM (#15258085)
    Someone higher up at wal-mart must really hate the people behind the returns counter. I've heard of returns from people that failed to correctly operate a toaster.

    I think we should all bow our heads in silent prayer for the poor fools working at the wal-mart returns and electronics desks. Then next time you start to think about how much you hate your job remember that there are people who would probably kill someone to be as free from stupidity as you are.

  • Making me feel thin again.
  • Availability (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VGR (467274) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @06:53PM (#15258169)
    I hate buying from Wal-Mart, but sometimes they carry things that no one else in the area sells.

    I live in a pretty rural area. The nearest actual town has no CompUSA, no Best Buy, and in fact no stores that sell significant computer hardware. There have been many times when I wished there were at least one such store.

    Even in the sticks, there's a number of computer guys out here who wouldn't mind having a hands-on place from which to buy hardware. Why not buy online? Because often I want to look at the box and read the specs and such. Not to mention, it's much easier to return something to a physical store than it is to return something bought online.

    So Wal-Mart has a chance to snag a pretty untapped market in my opinion.
    • Once you know, you Newegg [newegg.com].
      Seriously. If you have a little patience, they have better parts, better inventory, better information and a great return/exchange policy.
  • ....this will be helpful. It may end up being crap, but it will be crap that will get your machine running on a late sunday afternoon when nobody else is open.
  • Wal-Mart is becoming the DIY headquarters for the sleepless youth of America. I remember hatching wonderous schemes with my friends and heading off to the Wal-Mart in the wee shelf-stocking hours to buy the materials needed to accomplish our plans... with interesting results.

    The absolute best however was the idea to combine solid-fuel model rocket engines, large toy cars, and almost abandoned parking garages. A very stupid and dangerous activity of questionable legality was made all the more fun by seeing the checkers faces at that ungodly hour, trying to figure out why we were buying:

    1. An assortment of large plastic cars
    2. 2 rolls of gaffers tape
    3. Large stage solid rockets
    4. Ignitors
    5. Off brand Barbie dolls
    6. Flashlights
    7. Goggles
    8. Liquid graphite

    The conversations were always hilarious - and considering our share was coming from a bunch of "punk kids" with a random assortment of hair colors, piercings, stages of (un)dress, and associated stereotypes - we always had a good time.

    Late Night Checker: Soooo... what are you fellas up to?
    Punk Kids: We're building rocket cars.
    LNC: *vacant expression*
    PK's: We're going to attach these motors to the cars, and shoot them up ramps in parking garages.
    LNC: Right, so the goggles are for protection... uh, the barbies?
    PK's: Someone has to drive, dude.
    LNC: And the liquid graphite is for the axles? (Every now and then we got a bright one)
    PK's: Nah, that's just "personal lubricant".

    Now, that's all gone. With self-checkout I can buy any assortment of bizzaire and crazy crap with no-one to question me with the exception of the few flagged items that require "customer service" checks - although this may not be true depending on how late the self-checkouts are open in your area.

    In any case the idea of Wal-Mart doing this has Dell beat on one thing, if not price: instant gratification. A lot of times I'll dump an extra couple of bucks on something I can get right now as opposed to waiting for delivery. And if I can custom configure a box, get it at a competitive(ish) price with quality hardware, and pay say $50 bucks more to take it home and commence the fiddlin' associated with a new computer purchase - I'll probably do it.

    On the same note however, if they can't beat the prices available online by a good margin or stay very close to prices available online - the only added incentive to me becomes: ease of return and instant gratification. I've become more savvy with my online shopping to accomodate for shipping times, returns, etc. My matra has become buy before you run out and have scheduled purchases. Which brings up yet another issue with selling locally and cutting in on the online sales of computers:

    Taxes.

    Where I live in Tennessee (By force, not by choice) we pay a "fair use" tax on internet and out of state sales, i.e., if you buy it online or in Kentucky (no sales tax) you're supposed to voluntarily give the State the sales tax. I am very dubious as to how often this actually happens by anyone who is not forced to do so by their employer, as I am.

    I think for the people that are interested in spending the time to research best prices and save a buck are not going to be lured into buying their computers from Wal-Mart (especially the "high end" gaming market) or anything other than emergency peripherals. (If you ever need that kind of thing,. I have a box so full of mice you could choke a thousand donkeys with it.) But the sheer volume and monlith that is Wal-Mart is so saturated and in so many markets that "Average Joe American" cannot help but notice that their best friend and retailer of everything is now selling custom configuration computers.
    • I'm real happy with my Dell. I bought it about 2 years ago and opted for the a pretty stripped down model of the N series (sans operating system). I price checked online and realized I could get memory and hard drives cheaper, shipped, than by impulse at Dell.

      I think you have a great point about instant gratification though. Were I looking at options in a Wal-Mart, I'd be unable to compare option's online pricing, and the "tug" to just go ahead and get that 240G drive instead of the 120G would be pretty
  • Wal-Mart doesn't sell top line products, for the most part, but they generally do not sell junk. They also do not play in the market where 'Rebates' give the illusion that you are saving hundreds of dollars on that bargain priced 'eMachine'. I am often surprised at how many people do not have computers in thier homes. Wal-Mart will sell many computers to folks who do not have the cash or credit to pay the whole upfront price and wait many months for the rebate checks to dribble in. Also, for the knowle
  • by cartman (18204) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @07:47PM (#15258566)
    But this will drive out of business all the mom-and-pop DIY computer assembly store chains.

    And Wal-Mart intends to pay me NOTHING AT ALL while I assemble my computer, which is a violation of my rights.

    And don't get me STARTED about HEALTH CARE. Suppose I become injured or sick while assembling my computer?

    And what about workers' rights... Suppose I want my domestic partner to help me assemble my PC? Will there by any support from Wal-Mart? NO?

    It's just another way for Wal-Mart to screw over the consumer, make obscene profits, force small businesses to close, and discriminate against lesbians.

    The lesson we can draw from this is perfectly simple. Wal-Mart is the earthly incarnation of Evil.

    Fortunately, the local mom-and-pop store is PURER than the HOLY MOTHER VIRGIN.

  • XP OEM pricing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sPaKr (116314) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @08:02PM (#15258661)
    Does anyone else think this is just a 'life-hack' so WalMart can sell software at OEM prices? Buy that usb cable, sure now you can get XP for $45.
  • by RubberDogBone (851604) * on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @09:18PM (#15259071)
    This is good news on two major fronts:

    1) Computer parts source that's open 24/7. There have been many times when I needed a part urgently in the middle of the night or even on weekends when the local computer stores, Frys, Compusa, etc, just are not open. Walmart never closes.

    2) Price competition. I support my local computer shop when I can but he wants $80 for the same PSU Newegg sells for $40. Frys will sell me one for $60, if they actually have it in stock. Walmart is likely to bring parts to market at the lower end of that price scale and there won't be shipping costs.

    Now before people jump up and down and say that doesn't support the local guy, yeah, I agree. But he's already priced himself out of the market when I can order the same thing from Newegg and pay for next-day shipping and still get it it for less money -and get it delivered early in the AM before the local store even opens.

    The main question is, WHAT brands is Walmart going to sell. If they go low-end, then it will only be useful for basic parts. I'm not going to buy much less use a no-name $15 PSU. Fans and parts, OK, but I want decent brands for drives, cases, motherboards, videocards, etc.
  • Good, because. . . (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @09:34AM (#15261687)
    1. WalMart appears to NOT be actually selling internal computer components, (Mother boards, hard drives, cases, etc). They're only selling monitors and keyboards and mice which you 'Assemble yourself.' Chumpy but whatever.

    2. This is probably a good thing.

    3. Because. . .

    4. When WalMart gets into a market, they start dictating how and where things get manufactured, thus turning whole industries into lopsided affairs regulated by WalMart's decision-makers.

    5. This is bad, because. . .

    6. WalMart, the morally upright entity that it is, (*cough*) will have the ability to flood the market with a bunch of DRM hardware and force manufacturers to follow suit.

    Do you want that? DRM hard drives and memory sticks and flat screens that won't display anything unless the RIAA hardware filters let it through?

    Didn't think so.


    -FL

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