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Why The U.S. PC Market is On The Decline 317

Posted by Zonk
from the going-down dept.
conq writes "BusinessWeek reports on the recent woes of Apple and Dell. One possible reason according to the article: 'imminent price wars'." From the article: "'There's a softness in the market that's building,' says Richard Shim, a senior research analyst at IDC. In the past two weeks, IDC cut its 2006 forecast for U.S. PC growth to 5.7%, from 6.8%. 'In '04 and '05 there was tremendous growth. In a market that's as mature as this industry is, there's no way you can maintain those levels.'"
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Why The U.S. PC Market is On The Decline

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  • Old PCs Still Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Slider451 (514881) <slider451NO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Friday July 14, 2006 @05:40PM (#15721839)
    My fastest desktop at home, a P4 2.6 GHz w/ 1GB RAM, was built 3 years ago and still works just fine. Why upgrade?
    • by IflyRC (956454) on Friday July 14, 2006 @05:44PM (#15721866)
      Exactly! The only real reason to upgrade these days is if you are a gamer...and unless you are into the high paced first person shooter games (not MMORPG) you will not upgrade at every new game release.

      Things work fine, nothing new has come out to entice people into thinking they need a new system and people are "content" with their install of Windows XP.
      • (exactly)^2 (Score:4, Interesting)

        by patiodragon (920102) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:13PM (#15722060) Homepage
        My computer was built in 2002, and for my home still serves as a fileserver for 4 computers and a test web and database server. The "kiosk" laptop we use to surf the web and play streaming music is a Pentium III. No problemos here with linuxes (statiticians, please add 3 to linux column and subtract same from Operating Systems "in use").

        Vista is a great name for MS's next OS: Chance I would use it is WAY off in the distance.
        -KB
      • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:25PM (#15722117) Homepage Journal
        Exactly! The only real reason to upgrade these days is if you are a gamer...and unless you are into the high paced first person shooter games (not MMORPG) you will not upgrade at every new game release.

        That reminds me of my son's reaction when we brought home his new Mac mini with LCD flatscreen - the last computer I got him was an iMac, 8 years ago. We plug it in, connect it, and go on the Net.

        His first reaction to the better graphics, faster CPU is "the Internet's not faster".

        Duh ... we still were using the same Comcast high speed cable modem - it's not like it would suddenly "speed up".

        Hence, why bother upgrading? The Net won't go any faster. Sure, maybe you'll get cooler graphics, or better resolution, but in the end if you spend 90 percent of your time online, you won't see much difference.

        So a "slump" in growth (aka growth that in the 70s would have been "fantastic") is just the fact that we as a nation haven't moved to Gigapop Internet like most of the real industrialized nations have.
        • His first reaction to the better graphics, faster CPU is "the Internet's not faster".

          Wow... your internet connection must really suck for you not to notice the difference!

          I bought my wife a 266MHz G3 Imac with 384MB RAM when they came out. (still running OS9)

          I have a three year old TIBook (1GHz G4, 1GB RAM, OSX).

          The difference between the two systems when surfing the web is like night and day.
        • .....we as a nation haven't moved to Gigapop.....

          Even if most people did have such fast connections, as claimed to exist in other countries, what killer applications are there that would use all that fantastic speed. Video? People are content to watch the broadcast, cable or satellite drivel available now. Would video over the Internet improve the programming? Movies? Mostly the same as other video. Maybe downloading of movies might be a major use for the vast speed, but only if the copyright issues can be
      • Wrong, Since this is /., and I'm assuming most of us work in the it field, there are other reasons to upgrade. I'm a software developer. Specifically I do ruby on rails web apps these days. A ton of ram and fast cpu make my work go much faster. I didn't think this was the case for a long time, but now that I do real testing (unit, integration, etc) the difference is huge. I recently bought a macbook pro (had a g3 ibook) and my tests are atleast 4 times faster now. i.e. i don't sit here waiting for them to f
      • P-III 600MHz mobile with 512Meg RAM here. Works absolutely fine on WinXP/FreeBSD....

      • I'm not a gamer - Nethack and Solitaire work just fine on my older machine, thanks :-)

        But if I were a gamer with a 2-3-year-old machine and wanted better performance, would it make sense to by a whole new PC, or would adding a new graphics card be good enough? Or would I be in one of those traps where AGX just doesn't cut it and I'd need to buy a new motherboard with PCI-X, and oh, by the way, that motherboard needs faster RAM so I can't reuse my current stuff, in which case I should just buy a new machi

      • Not really. The traditional metric for processor usefulness has always been speed, and I agree that they've pretty much topped out for anyone not doing gaming, image/video editing, or other serious multimedia work. But now focus has shifted towards power consumption, and there's still a ton of headway being made. I for one am waiting for the release of Merom to upgrade my old Pentium M laptop.
      • Exactly! The only real reason to upgrade these days is if you are a gamer..

        ..or a Gentoo user.
      • If you are a gamer, your money will be better spent on a console. By leaving your old PC to the 90% of games that still play on it, you will save a considerable amount of money. You can get a console for the price of a new gamer video card alone. The money you save, you can spend on even more games for your console. :)
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)
      My general use machine at home is a Blue & White G3 upgraded to a 550 MHz G4. I've found that the videos at ABC.com require I hold down the mouse button to get a non-zero framerate. I never thought I'd need to grip a Dead Man's Switch to watch TV. My mother's eMac is faster than my machine.

      I need a new desktop Mac. I'd buy a Quad Core G5 now if I knew an Intel Core Duo card for it that would let me run future Intel Mac binaries was coming. Especially if it meant I could have 64-bit quad core and 32
      • Why quad? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Shawn Parr (712602) <parr@GINSBERGshawnparr.com minus poet> on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:41PM (#15722190) Homepage Journal
        My general use machine at home is a Blue & White G3 upgraded to a 550 MHz G4.
        If you have been putting up with a G3 that has been upgraded to a G4 (so it still has an ancient memory/ATA/system controllers) then why are you under the impression you need a Quad to replace it??

        Any current Intel machine will blow that so far out of the water it just isn't funny. I have a G4 933 (QS 2002) and just got a Macbook. The Macbook is portable, uses less power, and spanks my G4 around the block as far as performance goes. Even with Parallels running and 2 VM's going. Seriously a MB or Mini Mac Intel would more than be a super upgrade for you. Obviously you don't need wiz-bang if you have been living with the B&W that long. Especially since we have definitely entered the realm of most new computers being capable of way more then you will typically ever use. I even use Protools regularly, and on the Macbook it has plenty of power for most of the sessions I run. I'll never have a deskop again, except in very special circumstances (perhaps an installed machine in a studio, but that isn't necessarily considered a general purpose computer anymore).

        As another note, I have no idea what you are talking about with the $30 discount for Parallels with Windows, and I have checked their site. Their typical $30 discount, however, expires Tomorrow. So if you think you might go Intel in the near future you probably should act on it.

        • The big issue for me is access to very large drives. My hobby is video editing and DV capture needs lots of space. I'm about to plug adapt a higher ATX power supply into my G3 just so I can have power to drive more internal ATA hard drives. (I've been having bad luck with Firewire enclosures.)

          On Parallels Desktop $30 rebate w/Windows (XP Home or Pro), check Amazon.com. They cite the rebate on the product page.
        • If you have been putting up with a G3 that has been upgraded to a G4 (so it still has an ancient memory/ATA/system controllers) then why are you under the impression you need a Quad to replace it??
           
          Any current Intel machine will blow that so far out of the water it just isn't funny.
          And yet there is still some software that Intel machine won't even run.

          So... perhaps he wants the fastest machine that will run his software...
    • You're actually understating the issue. For the software that most people use, your processor is three, maybe even four, times as powerful as necessary. (RAM is kind of beside the point: you can always upgrade, and it's cheap as hell.) So it isn't just 3-year-old machines that people see no reason to upgrade -- it's machines that are much older!

      Come to think of it, there's probably some connection between this issue, and the fact that Vista has extreme hardware requirements [bit-tech.net]. Does your P4 have good threadi

    • My point Exactly (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AnyThingButWindows (939158) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:31PM (#15722151) Homepage
      G4 Sawtooth 450mhz updated to: 2.0ghz Powerlogix with, 2.0gb PC 133 ram, Radeon 9800 Pro 256mb, 80+120gb WD HDs running on ATA 66, + SATA 3.0 4 channel card running a 400gb Samsung + 16x Pioneer DVD+-RW. Tiger 10.4.7 / 19in Envision LCD.

      This machine is 6 years old, and runs Quake 4, Doom 3, and Halo like a dream. I don't see any reason to upgrade to a G5 when I am running 86+ scores on Xbench. I probably won't upgrade for another year at least.

      Yea, it has a 100mhz bus, and fights between resources, but if im doing one or 2 things at a time, it flies.

      http://www.kore-net.com/office/sawtooth.jpg [kore-net.com]
    • Thats the exact reason. I have an AMD64 3200, 1GB ram, 500GB hard drive in Raid0, NVidia 6800GT, etc, etc, etc. It still does everything perfect and I am the type of person that will go out and buy something new if I see even a hint of slowdown. I play all the newest games, love to do video editing and a little bit of everything else. Hardware has just surpassed software finally. Except for the Vista Beta2. That crap crawls on my system. I really hope its the fact that its beta because I just wont' b
  • by hotspotbloc (767418) on Friday July 14, 2006 @05:41PM (#15721850) Homepage Journal
    It makes sense: why upgrade now when you plan on upgrading your hardware for Vista? For better or worse MS drives home a lot of the hardware sales. Now next year should be a much better year.

    • For worse. :)

      (sorry, had to be said. Coming from a Firefox/Core Duo Mac mini user)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      ...and anyone who has heard about it probably only hears negative things.
    • It makes sense because we've hit the tipping point.

      As somebody above indicated, we've achieved a point where "Fast Enough" is a meaningful term.

      We're doing the same things with computers we did 10 years ago, we're just doing them faster. There needs to be a revolution of functionality to spur demand.

      My PowerBook G4 does everything I need it to fairly speedily.

      It does a horrible job of decoding and playing back HDTV signals though...it's just not compelling enough to make me update yet.
      • There is room for growth, at the bottom. If a given configuration is "fast enough" which I do belive is true, then the new market is driving the cost, size and weight down. Essentially the OLPC "$100" laptop and what I call the 'bubble pack PC', a small cheap ($50-$200) PC, zero maintanence, sold in bubble packs as an impulse buy. These will be secondary machines, but they will change computing radically.
        • Yes yes. I agree. I increasingly think that growth will finally begin to come from non-PC looking devices.

          I say "finally" because this has, of course, been predicted for some time but but has not yet quite come true. Apple still makes more money selling computers than iPods.

          There's also a great semantic argument to be had about what is a "PC" but I think it's clear that the beige/grey/black/strawberry coloured box is a PC and a handheld is only partly a PC.

          Or maybe "mostly a PC."

          Anyway -- I dislike engaging
    • Now next year should be a much better year...


      For what? Linux on the desktop?
    • It makes sense: why upgrade now when you plan on upgrading your hardware for Vista?

      The only people that are waiting to upgrade their hardware until Vista arrives are nerds and techno freaks that get a kick out of building their own pooters and a healthy proportion of those wouldn't touch VIsta with a 18 foot pike because they either run Linux/OS.X or because they are die hard gamers who will stick with XP to wring every ounce of performance out of their system to be able to run Quake 4, Doom 3 (or whatever
    • by theJML (911853)
      I agree, however I recently installed Vista Beta 2 on my 4 year old Athlon XP 2500+ system with 512MB RAM, and it's working pretty darn well with every effect the OS can dish out turned on. Only thing I've changed in it since I built it is the addition of a GeForce 5900 Graphics card, which is far from top of the line. Honestly, I WAS thinking of upgrading in the future, not really FOR Vista per se (though that was part of the thought) and after seeing that once again, all my games still run and Vista is sm
  • Begun, this price war has.

    (I'm all for a little price war since I likes me cheap computers.)
  • by Aladrin (926209) on Friday July 14, 2006 @05:43PM (#15721865)
    So Dell and Apple grow 1% slower than previously expected and suddenly the entire market is on the 'decline'? Let's put it back in perspective.

    When they first started selling TVs, nobody had one, obviously. But very few could afford them, so they didn't sell many. Then they got cheaper, and more sold. And cheaper, and more, etc etc etc. Until everyone owned a TV. Oh no, people aren't buying as many TVs now. It's not because they are any less popular, or something replaced them. They are simply so common that there isn't a market for people that don't have one. There is only a market for replacements.

    This is the market PCs are enterring. My mother and father each have a PC. They can barely use them, but find them essential. My younger sister has a laptop and a PC. I have a PC, a server-pc, a pc that doesn't even get turned on, an old 733mhz pc that's in the closet, a 500mhz laptop and a 133mhz laptop. Everyone I know has a PC. Or 6.

    PCs are still in a growing market, as the 5.7% figure in the summary states. It simply isn't growing as fast. The real slump will hit when everyone has all the PCs they 'need' and are only buying replacements.
    • by Tweekster (949766) on Friday July 14, 2006 @05:47PM (#15721897)
      Basically that is the same math they use in budget "cuts"

      The people complaining about governmental budget cuts are still receiving MORE than they did last year, but at a lower rate of increase.

      "ohhhh they cut our budget, instead of going up 25% this year it is going up a tiny 15%"

      Unless you are receiving less money than last year, or not keeping up with inflation over a period of time longer than a single year you should be beaten if you claim it is a cut / decline,.
      • by Kjella (173770)
        Unless you are receiving less money than last year, or not keeping up with inflation over a period of time longer than a single year you should be beaten if you claim it is a cut / decline,.

        And unless you're being asked to do more for same amount of money. For example, in education you can get a budget increase of 5% and a pupil increase of 10%. You can hear the politicians about how they're spending more money on education but it's still a net decline. It works both ways...
      • The people complaining about governmental budget cuts are still receiving MORE than they did last year, but at a lower rate of increase.

        Wrong. They cut NIH funding to one-quarter what it used to be. Basic science was slashed, even while the WH was saying they were going to increase it.

        Wake up and smell reality.
        • He is also wrong in regard to the NSF.

          In a disappointment to the scientific community, the National Science Foundation (NSF) budget will decline by $105 million or 1.9 percent to $5.47 billion under the FY 2005 omnibus appropriations bill.

          But aren't we on track to double the NSF budget over ten years?

          Fiscal Year 2006 Budget For Office Of Science Technology Policy And The National Science Foundation
          The proposed budget for NSF is just 2.4% above last year for a total of $5.6 billion. This barely keeps

      • that thinking, you should remember that the budget has been done. So when you go into the budget to make adjustments, it comes out as a decline.

        People who do that for a living(accountants) understasnd what it means and the difference between ana ctuals decline and a budget decline. Unfortunatly newspapers tend to mangle it because they do not know the distintion.

      • Unless you are receiving less money than last year, or not keeping up with inflation over a period of time longer than a single year you should be beaten if you claim it is a cut / decline.

        You are losing ground when the population you serve is growing faster than your resources:

        It is for all practical purposes a budget cut when your grandmother is put on a waiting list for assisted living or a nursing home bed.

    • One could argue that Dell is down because HP finally has their shit together. And Apple's stock is driven much more by the iPod than PCs.
    • The real slump will hit when everyone has all the PCs they 'need' and are only buying replacements. - the real slump will hit when everyone has all the PCs they THINK they need :)
    • * Assuming a non-skewed distribution (eg. normal distribution).

      It amazes me how people freak out when something falls below its estimate. If X is normally distributed the actual value of X should fall below its expectation 50% of the time. If instead of expectation we're talking about the median, this is simply by definition. This isn't Statistics 101, this is like Statistics 0. But people still freak out. Sales figures, employment numbers, wage growth...

      I'm just waiting for the headline, "50 Perce

  • Stupid Title (Score:5, Informative)

    by panaceaa (205396) on Friday July 14, 2006 @05:45PM (#15721875) Homepage Journal
    The title of this article is "Why The U.S. PC Market is On The Decline", but right in the summary it says that IDC expects the PC market to grow 5.7%!! That's not decline.
    • Re:Stupid Title (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cptgrudge (177113) <cptgrudge@gmaiCHEETAHl.com minus cat> on Friday July 14, 2006 @05:54PM (#15721944) Journal
      It's just like how many people in government scream when they get their spending "cut". Not always really a "cut", but less than what it was set to increase. It happens everywhere. "Oh no! I only got a 3% increase instead of a 4% increase! I'll call it a spending cut and get people incensed!"
    • Re:Stupid Title (Score:3, Interesting)

      by User 956 (568564)
      The title of this article is "Why The U.S. PC Market is On The Decline", but right in the summary it says that IDC expects the PC market to grow 5.7%!! That's not decline.

      There's a decrease in the amount of increase. Clearly you need to brush up on your journalistic doublespeak.
      • There's a decrease in the amount of increase. Clearly you need to brush up on your journalistic doublespeak.

        Or an introductory course in calculus...
    • Its not too hard to see why computers will be less profitable in the coming years. They are a commodity item and there are many low-cost Asian companies that Apple and Dell will have a very hard time competing with. Quality won't matter for most people. If I can buy 3 Lenovo machines for the cost of one Apple, guess what I buy, regardless of quality.
    • Well, I guess the growth is on decline.
  • Vista Factor (Score:2, Insightful)

    by guabah (968691)
    Among the concerns: delays in key computer-related technologies including the latest Microsoft (MSFT) operating system and next-generation DVD players.
    Many potential buyers are waiting for Vista to be released before getting a new PC. If I were planning to get a new PC(And if use windows at all) I would certainly wait for vista to be released next year.
    • Re:Vista Factor (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tweekster (949766)
      I have not heard a single normal customer say "Hey, you know what, I am gonna wait for Vista to come out first"

      Outside of people directly in the IT field, hardly anyone cares about Vista. MS VIsta is not even on the scope of people's purchasing desires. The best buy guy may try to push the machine that is upgradeable to vista (which those customers simply wont be doing anyways) and they usually say "yeah thats nice, i may not know about computers, but I do know its not worth upgrading"
  • Wallstreet Nonsense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday July 14, 2006 @05:47PM (#15721893)

    Gee Dell and Apple will be announcing their projected numbers in a few days. Well, I guess we'd all better listen to the "analysts" whose accuracy rate is about the same as flipping a coin. Speculation and stock fluctuations before these announcements is pretty much par for the course as people make guesses in the hopes of a stock market win. The rest of us, however, are a lot more concerned about Q1 and Q2 numbers that actaully, you know are how much they are selling.

  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Friday July 14, 2006 @05:48PM (#15721904)
    3+ gal gasoline and higher cost of borrowing are beginning to weigh the US consumer. Things are going to get much worse.
  • One word... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cytlid (95255) on Friday July 14, 2006 @05:53PM (#15721938)
    ... Virtualization.

      A friend of mine gave me a dual P3 933 machine with a gig of ram, I put a 100gig sata drive in it, and put Vmware server on it. Now I have 12 virtual machines defined... (no for all you picky types, not all run at the same time, 3-4 at most) ... and out went all the old hardware in the basement. My wife was happy.

      Of course, I'd like to buy a nicer 64 bit machine for this server ... but I have the ability to sit back and wait.
    • Well, trying to run 3-4 virtual machines on a 933 Mhz system sounds painful - it "Mega-Hurtz"... what you describe is only 12 GB per server - WTF would you do with 12 VM instances?

      Anyhow I do something kinda similar with my 1.7 Ghz Centrino laptop.

      It's got 1.5 GB of RAM, and I routinely run 2 VMs under VMWare for software development. (The host O/S is Fedora Linux)

      It's been the bomb! It's really neat to be able to simulate several servers while developing our clustered network application while sitting in
  • You'd be silly to buy a non-Intel Mac right now. Yet, there isn't a version of Office or any Adobe product that runs natively on the Intel machines. In my opinion, that's one of the reasons why Mac sales are not what they could be.
    • You'd be silly to buy a non-Intel Mac right now.

      And yet, I'd desperately like to find a new non-intel Mac Mini at close out prices!

      (I wanna build a diskless Myth frontend [mythtv.org])

      Face it, there is still software out there that won't run on the Intel based Macs that will run on the PPC Macs.

      Since I can't find one at a reasonable price, I have my eyes on this [hauppauge.com] instead...
  • by wfberg (24378) on Friday July 14, 2006 @05:57PM (#15721968)
    It's a miracle the market is growing as it is.. For a while now, your 2 or 3 year old computer has been "good enough" for most people. Why would you upgrade if you don't really do new stuff with it? As I see it, reasons for buying a new computer are;
    - you don't have one yet (which is getting more and more unlikely)
    - you're doing new stuff with it, such as getting broadband or editing homevideos
    - you're a nerd/geek/gamer
    - it's broken in some fashion.

    In other words; a replacement market.
    Now, the OEMs know this. This is why Dell is getting into sidelines like PDAs, digital cameras, TV screens etc.
    And, in a certain way, they've always known this. OEMs have always sold PCs that were essentially underspecced when it came to the cheapest upgrade; RAM. A 1GB P3 will simply do for most people. I bet they're glad they shipped them with 256MB (or "double your ram limited time only offer" 512MB).

    A cynical mind might think that this is part of the reason why OEMs include so much "handy" bundled software.. Fill up that memory good, let the apps update (get bigger) once in a while, so the system gets cruftier and cruftier. Have the anti-virus software disable after a month or two to lower defenses..

    There actually are (I'm afraid to say: a lot) of people who buy a new computer simply because the old one got so bogged down with spyware. Dell should have a checkbox on their order pages "[x] my old computer is teh broken with virusses" so they can pick up the old computer as they bring the new one, and ship the old one to Africa, where a simple linux install makes it usable for at least another 3 years..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 14, 2006 @05:58PM (#15721974)
    Joe Sixpack isn't holding off buying a new box because of Vista. Only nerds do that. Joe is content with what he's got.
    • Joe is content with what he's got.

      Or frustrated with what he's got... and smart enough to know that "new" won't fix the frustration.
    • Joe Sixpack isn't holding off buying a new box because of Vista. Only nerds do that.

      Maybe, this could be a case of salesmen's upsell efforts backfiring. Joe Sixpack goes in to buy a PC, and the salesmen tries to sell him on the model with the better graphics card, ect "Becuase Vista will be out at the beginning of next year." Suddenly Joe Sixpack becomes aware that a major software change is about to happen "Maybe I should wait till it starts coming on new PCs."
  • by WndrBr3d (219963) on Friday July 14, 2006 @05:58PM (#15721976) Homepage Journal
    In the past, the PC market would advance at an alarming rate. If you bought a PC in 1995, lets say a 486, then three years later it would make total sense to upgrade to the newer P2 processors that were out at the time because the performance leap was huge and commercial software was taking advantage of the new speed.

    These days, i find the average home PC for Average Joe Family need no more than a >2Ghz CPU, = 1GB RAM, ~80GB, GeForce 6200 or the likes. This computer would handle Word Processing, Internet Browsing, email and even simple multimedia (digital photos, whatnot). I think it's fair to estimate this PC was a decent 'new' computer back in 2003.

    What has changed for the home user? Windows XP is still the operating system in use. IE hasn't changed much, nor has Office. With that in mind, is it entirely necessary for this family to purchase a new PC? Probably not.

    It boils down to the only thing driving new PC sales is new games, honestly.. and since many home PC users aren't into the latest games at the HIGHEST FPS possible, then of course PC sales are going to sag.
  • Today's PCs are more powerful then most people need, and upgrading doesnt really get you much. ( yes, i know, vista is coming down the pike to obsolete your current pc.. ) except something new and shiny.

    Except for a tiny few, the PC sits and waits for you 90% of the time now.. So having a few % speed increase only means it waits for you even more..
  • I chalk whatever small decline there is to the lack of advancements. CPU performance hasnt made any huge gains lately. GPU performance has been good but most PCs come with integrated graphics. The only people pushing hard are the enthusiasts.
  • Caption should be "from the going-slightly-less-up dept." to be accurate.
  • I'm not shocked (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zakezuke (229119) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:06PM (#15722024)
    If all you need your PC for is Microsoft word and powerpoint from time to time, and you already have something 900mhz or above, why on earth do you need another PC? It's hard to think in terms of an ordinary user, but there are typicaly only a few reasons to upgrade.

    1. What you need to do takes too long
    2. It broke and repair is to damn costly
    3. You need more "memory" (where memory = either ram or HD), need a burner, or need that spiffy software application which comes with the new PC.
    4. There is a super duper deal with losts of extras you don't need.

    From a goodwill standpoint, while there are still a number of PCs in the pentium I class, I'm starting to see quite a few AMD durons with gigs of HD space, a modest compliment of memory, and still operational save the spyware infections. I have to say the market is pretty saturated with PCs, more PCs than you can shake a stick at, so many that dell is apparently offering their Dimension 1100 for $50 plus tax and a modest fee for shipping, or free "designated carrier".

    • so many that dell is apparently offering their Dimension 1100 for $50 plus tax and a modest fee for shipping, or free "designated carrier".

      I stand corrected, as of this moment the price jumped back up to $299

      Enclosed are the details I was quoting that no longer exist.
      [data regarding my obsolete price quote]
      Dimension 1100 Qty 1
      Intel® Celeron® D Processor 325 (2.53 GHz, 533 FSB), Genuine Windows® XP Home Edition Unit Price
  • by Quiberon (633716) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:12PM (#15722054) Journal

    I think it's a combination of 'home entertainment' being done better on the games consoles (surely XBox360 must be a growth market), and 'corporate' users figuring that a long-life PC (with parts replacement) is more environmentally friendly, does not fill up and pollute landfill space so quickly. Should a corporate PC now have a lifespan of 10 years rather than 3 years ? If Microsoft won't supply a software maintenance service at competitive prices, that leaves doors open for the likes of RedHat and Novell who certainly will.

    From what I can see of Microsoft Windows Vista, it's aimed at the games market.

    Corporate/professional use just doesn't get anything more out of Vista than XP; it's not as if a new version of Microsoft Word will help you think and express yourself more clearly than the old one does.

    • Should a corporate PC now have a lifespan of 10 years rather than 3 years ?

      Since performance no longer doubles every 12-15 months? Definitely.

      Most PCs bought in the last 5 years can easily last 6-8 years if they are taken care of, are running Win2k or WinXP, and have plenty of RAM (1GB is a good target for an office machine). Two years ago, we went through the office and maxed out all of the RAM on any machine with 500MHz or faster CPUs. For $100/machine, we added 2-3 years of lifespan.

      New machines
  • Spyware factor (Score:3, Insightful)

    by a_greer2005 (863926) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:40PM (#15722180)
    Many folks just scrap their PCs every year and get a new one rather than paying Geeksquad to fix the old one...this is a HUGE problem; imagine if folks just scrapped their cars in stead of changing the sparkplugs.

    this is contributing to a forthcoming social, ecological and economic disaster...and I am saying this as a conservative!

  • Ya' go out, buy new hardware, load it up, pop onto slashdot, and see: "price war coming soon".

    C'mon people, show of hands: how many of you are checking up on return policies right now?
  • Recent woes = 5% stock price loss :/
    I see 1% swings daily on news, WTF, is this a gain if we simply shift it a week?!?

    Plus the fact that Apple is not going to hit ANALISTS PROJECTIONS (did i miss a Y? oh well)

    Also it appears Dell is losing some market share. DUH, they've been idiots with service for a while now.

    Nowhere in link does it mention SALES or even PROFIT. Are sales down? Where is the slump? Less units? Less dollars? Less profits?

    Any of the above or just bellyachin they aren't making a bunch more?

    bl
  • Since I'm stealing Dell, HP, Gateway AND Apple customers on a fairly regular basis anymore. Reasons given vary from "not what I expected and I feel I was ripped off" to "the support was so horrible that I paid $1000 for a paperweight until you fixed it for me".

    We can't forget that Dell has been installing KNOWN spyware on PCs they've been selling of late as well as all the trialware that gets installed on systems to lower the cost to the customer due to "ad revenue".

    No, I don't think that computer sales wi
  • by istartedi (132515) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:57PM (#15722286) Journal

    In the Smithsonian's technology exhibit, I saw a graph that marked the rise of television in the 1950s. It was a saturation curve, rising very quickly at the 40 to 50 percent level, and then flattening and gradually moving up at, IIRC, 70 to 80 percent. I'm sure the transition to color and solid state provided some turnover, as will the hi-def transition we are in now.

    The lesson though, is that PCs will saturate too. They can surf the web and play DVDs. They can do word processing, spreadsheets, and most of the other "killer apps" people need. There's no more reason for turnover, and those that want 'em got 'em. I was looking out for this, and figured the real saturation started in the late 90s. For years, the state of the art PC was "about $2000", and then suddenly, very capable machines dropped through the $1000 floor. The vendors must have seen the curve flattening, so they had to reach into that lower price market to drive sales. That was the beginning of the end.

  • .. in the earlier article, "U.S. Game Sales Up 25% In June."

    People are just playing games, they're not thinking. For that, you don't need a PC, a SlayStation will do.

    Us thoughtful developers are becoming a minority as the "bread and circuses" concept is pushed by corporates - except now it's fast food, cable, and video games.

    Vik :v)
  • by Zhe Mappel (607548) on Saturday July 15, 2006 @02:49AM (#15723787)
    Vista? iPod effect? Come on, that's too nerdy to matter. Slowing PC sales have to do with tightening purse strings.

    Everybody knows the obvious reasons (e.g., gas prices, interest rates, outsourcing), but the lurking fat girl ready to jump out of the cake and start farting up a storm is home equity borrowing.

    Under Bush, you borrowed against your fast-appreciating home as fast as you could. Then you went out and bought crap.

    That money's spent (though usually still owed). Unhappily for those counting on the "home ATM" to work forever, there's a glut of homes and condos nobody wants and that owners can't sell. Speculation is rife, values have ballooned beyond the reach of most buyers and new building is continuing like a bad thyroid problem: this will lead to declining values. The WSJ observed a plateauing in new equity borrowing back in March; just wait. There's more signs of the hard landing ahead today at WSJ.com, where it's argued that "the current slowdown in homes sales is more profound that many had first thought," along with mounting fears of recession.

    Under mountains of debt and delusion many Americans are going to learn to live within their means, which will be reduced by the reckless choices--financial and political--made in this decade. Obviously, that means fewer new Dells and Apples among other things. Anyone looking for good prices on systems might want to wait for the foreclosure sales in McMansion land--lightly used, you know, just a little porn and Rush Limbaugh. ;-)

  • by ce33na66 (988044) on Saturday July 15, 2006 @12:49PM (#15724905)
    There are currently seven functioning computers around my house. Three Ubuntu desktops, one freessco box, one headless XP machine, a wireless XP laptop and a wireless Ubuntu laptop that absolutely rocks.

    My personal desktop is a 766Mhz celeron running Ubuntu. It does everything I feel I currently need. My son is happy playing his online games on a three year old Ubuntu machine. My wife is perfectly capable of doing anything she needs towards finishing her college degree with the remaining systems.

    The XP desktop would not even be here if it were not for my wife foolishly buying a Canon "3 in 1" printer that only works on windows.

    Think about it. My family can do anything they decide to do with what amounts to other peoples throw away machines. Most of our closer friends have come to us when they felt that they needed new computers. If they were ready for linux, we put them on the favorite linux distro at that time (currently Ubuntu). If they were not ready for linux, we set them up with a 98lite gutted version of ME (don't laugh, its a pretty slick little system if you go the "micro" route). They are all still running along happily with no major complaints.

    I've been doing my part to stop this mentality that says "we have to upgrade because Microsoft has a new system." The old argument about how hard it is to use anything other than Mac or Windows doesn't fly in my house. We swapped to Linux in 1995. I'm not an IT pro. I'm a steamfitter. Guys, its just not that hard.

    Even my Macintosh nazi father-in-law is beginning to question this continual upgrade cycle.

    Perhaps the rest of the community is starting to figure out that they are getting ripped off by computer and software manufacturers.

    If it isn't broke, don't fix it.

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