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The Almighty Buck

Is There Anyone Left To Buy PCs? 262

Gilligan writes: "This article on MSNBC talks about how slowing PC sales might be the result of the industry reaching its saturation point. One expert even suggested there will be zero growth of PC sales within two years." This reminds me of the famous prediction by IBM that the entire world would only need 10 computers. The article does not address worldwide trends, only American -- maybe PC sales really are near their peak here, but most people all over the world have never even touched a computer, never mind owned one, because everyday needs take priority.
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Is There Anyone Left To Sell PCs To?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hardware manufacturers should embrace Linux + Gnome. Runs slow enough to force everyone to upgrade.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    at work we're always buying new PCs to replace old ones, and we don't buy them at any specific time of the year, so it's not a seasonal thing.

    There will always be people buying new PCs, unless the webpad thing really takes off, and I ain't holding my breath.

  • The "luxuries" hardly require a Pentium with an absurd amount of RAM. Neither does one end up with the equivalent of a C64 if you choose to say no to bloatware.

    These are two great lies perpetuated by windows-centric computing culture.

    Infact, scaling things back will likely simplify things to the point where some of the novices can actually get a handle on things. Featuritus also adds complexity. When you add a jillion more options, it simply becomes inevitable.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    PC sales _GROWTH_, not PC SALES.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Of course not - how else can you get 'first post'?
  • And Dell's response? Blame Europe!

  • by The Man ( 684 )
    Wow, I'm so awed to be in the presence of one of the 10 people in the world who truly, honestly need a computer.

    You're assuming I own this computer...

  • Mod points happen more for the first few posts.

    So People react to the headline. In this case the head line asks "is there is anyone left to sell computers to." That's what many posts are reacting to, hoping for the early mod point rush.

    We could get a better mod system (lots of work)
    or /. could get better headlines.

    Or we could hope the nature of the average poster/moderator would change, but well you know
    ... hot grits.

    -Peace
    Dave
  • There is a serious class segregation between the urban 'haves' and the rural 'have nots' in the information age.

    It's not as bad as that in other rural areas. I just got back from spending a weekend in rural Saskatchewan visiting my grandparents. Both sets of them live in the same small town, and they've both bought PCs in the past couple of years and have Internet access. According to a guy I know at the Radio Shack in that town, they've been selling computers to seniors briskly for a while now.

    So, given this and the fact that everyone in my extended family has at least one computer and an email address, I can believe that the growth in computer sales is flattening.

  • From 1977, according to fortune(1):
    "There is is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home."
    -- Ken Olsen (President of Digital Equipment Corporation),
    Convention of the World Future Society, in Boston, 1977

    Quite how he came to that conclusion in 1977 is another matter, since the Altair was outstripping demand and the Apple II had just launch (IIRC)...
  • "There is is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home."

    There is still no real NEED to have one in your home. There may be plenty of reasons why you WANT one, but how many people actually work at home?
  • And how many people do that? One in every thousand? One in ten thousand perhaps? Or even a hundred thousand?

    Why do I even bother to reply to an AC

  • The reason why I removed my email from the user info page several years ago, is because it turns out users with something meaningful to say post, while people like you, who like to begin a discussion with words like 'fuckwit', find it necessary to mail you things in a similar theme, and subscribe you to a few dozen mailing lists to add to the point.

    As an AC no-one can look at your previous posts, your account can't be blocked if you contribute nothing but flaming and trolling.

    You might really be someone who knows about the vital importance of telecommuting in the USA. I only know it plays an insignificant role here in Europe. On the other hand, you might be a teenager who has never had a job, let alone a tele-commuting one, and who uses words like 'fuck' in an attempt to hide the fact that that is something he has never done, and never will do.
  • unless i am mistaken it was a world market for 5 computers not 10

    I believe you may have confused the IBM quote with a quote from Prof. Frink from The Simpsons. Presenting the Frinkiac-7, he remarked that it looked impressive, "But I predict that within a hundred years, computers will be twice as powerful, 10,000 times larger, and so expensive that only the five richest kings of Europe will own them."

  • Actual errormessage from some old IBM 286 BIOSes:

    Cannot find keyboard. Press F1 to continue.

  • I don't see a problem here. I enjoy using computers but I wouldn't want to live in a world where everyone was plugged in and online almost all of the time. If you think today's society is often impersonal...
  • Actully, if a 40s computer fell on their head, they'd be dead, my friend, and so they wouldn't be in a position to recognise it
    &nbsp - from Jaymz with love!
  • Downloading an mpeg isn't CPU intensive.

    Sure it is! At least, it is on Windows... The little flying piece of paper icon takes more memory than a CGA framebuffer had. Updating it would cost about the same as full-screen animation did way back when... ;-)

    --Joe
    --
  • Uhm, no. As the person you responded to stated, if there are more people next year than there are this year, and if everyone bought one computer, then there will be more computers sold next year than this year. Thus, the market has grown.

    --Joe
    --
  • I run GNOME on my P133 laptop without any trouble whatsoever. I can even run GIMP as long as I'm prepared to get slowed down by swapping. I think many people look at the speed of GNOME or KDE on their P9/20.000Mhz, and interpolate down to older stuff, then conclude that it must be unusable.

    For _really_ old stuff (like 486:s or 386:s), try running wxwindows for basic graphics apps, though I ran X on a 486/12Mb quite happily for two years.

  • Would you be so kind and tell me how to do that?

    Alright. Mu laptop is a p133/32M, just like yours. I've installed RedHat6.2, using the custom install (so I only get the stuff I want). With Helix GNOME, all developer tools (gcc, libs etc.), vim (not emacs), netscape, LaTeX, documentation etc. it's at 610Mb. The first thing I did after install was go through the machine and delete a lot of stuff I don't really need, like icons, backgrounds, text for other languages and such.

    As for speed, I have Xfree3.3.6, sawfish and GNOME, using a minimal theme for sawfish, no theme for GTK, single-color background, rxvt for a terminal, no pager (but four pages), only one applet (a clock), and all unneeded services permanently removed. At startup, and with only one terminal, the swapspace is still unused, and it takes netscape about ten to fifteen seconds to start.

  • Isn't going to fly until IPV6. Most (read: ALL) popular VPN tunnels won't work over a NAT which is what your house firewall is going to give.
    ... and I know this is slashdot but why does it have to run Linux? Im assuming you meant "unix clone" in place of Linux.
    ---
    Solaris/FreeBSD/Openstep/NeXTSTEP/Linux/ultrix/OSF /...
  • I have 5, one from my employer (a Dell Inspiron 7000), two apples (an iMac and a G4), a thinkpad 560 (for my suse linux fanaticism), and an unused Lexmark subnotebook from 1995. Oh wait. If forgot my AST Ascentia 810N (with transplanted 3,8 Gb hard drive), that my wife uses on occasion.

    I find them all *absolutely* essential to my daily living.

    The power company also thinks that they are important.

    :)
  • God I hate statisticians.
    --
  • Right now I'm working on a PIII/700.

    I was running a script to test if a benchmark I'm trying to add to a benchmark suite (it's an Ogg-Vorbis encoder, btw) is portable enough yet (nope).

    I would have liked to see the output of the later tests. However, the script was already 2 hrs. in and had only done the simplest of 2 out of 5 compiles. When I fix the problems causing the early errors, I'll have to wait about 5 hours to find out that I still need to tweak the code a bit, and then run it again.

    The professor I'm working has a different benchmark (prototype MPEG-4 encoder) that he's been itching to try out. He can't find a machine with enough ram/swap to do it. I configured his machine with 2 gig of swap (1/2 gig physical memory), and the benchmark will eat all of it about 3 hours in.

    Now, it's true that a home consumer doesn't need a big monster of a machine. But any sort of engineering (cad/cam, flow simulations, circuit simulation, etc) can easily eat any current CPU you throw at it. If you give me a faster CPU, then, yes, I'll be very happy that I don't have to wait 15 min. to do a simple compile. I'll also be very happy that I can do thing foo in a bigass overnight run, that before would have taken too long. Or the guy down the hall will be happy he can go from a design change to a verification simulation in 2 weeks instead of 3, letting him get 33% more done.

    There is a very large market for fast workstations in industry and in academia. If you give me a machine that is 50% faster, I can probably promise 33% more productivity, and I can do things that before I wouldn't do, simply because it would take too long. So I get the fastest machine that the department can afford, and next year's equipment budget will go to as much of the same as can be gotten.
  • I Agree!! How much is Glass worth? lol.
    ---

  • My computer keeps my room warm during the winter.

    ==============================================

    "my room" ??

    What are you? A child, a dormitory dweller, or the denizen of an asylum? You have only one room???


    Of course he has only one room!
    You see, with the pace of change in the computer world he only needs one computer and he has been using the same computer for years!

    He only needs one room because his computer occupies all the others in his house.

    His computer is ENIAC.
  • But that growth alone won't sustain the computer industry. As of 1997 (the latest year I've seen numbers for) the yearly population growth in the U.S. was 0.88%. Even if we estimate that 60% of those new births will eventually become computer buyers, that translates to new market growth of slightly more than 0.5% yearly. Divide that growth among all of the major computer companies, not to mention the mom-n-pop shops, and you'll see that depending on an increasing population for sales growth would be suicidal for any company.
  • After four years in the DFW area, I've not yet been to First Saturday. In some ways, just as well; I gather that the cops lurk not far off, quite ready to arrest people for having bought goods they did not know was stolen.

    As you say,

    I had to put my system together myself. I had to install the operating system. I had to configure ipfwadm (still using 2.0.35) ALL BY MYSELF WITH NO HELP FROM ANYONE (unless you consider reading man pages and howto's to be help).
    • Your having 12 machines on your LAN makes you a poor candidate for the "dumb Firewall box."
    • Your having some clue that ipfwadm is anything other than mistyped gibberish makes you a poor candidate for the "dumb Firewall box."
    You're probably not a good candidate for getting a "tiny embedded firewall;" your needs are decidedly more sophisticated, and you can easily enough build something acceptable yourself.

    I'd not be shocked if you would be prepared to burn a CD to boot up a customized version of Linux/*BSD that would provide a Remarkably Unhackable configuration.

    But life is short; I could probably do much the same, but if I were to get a Cable Modem, it might be more economical of my time and limited space to pick up a LinkSys router.

    And I'm not overly concerned about the Unix cognoscenti; y'all can take care of yourselves.

    What I would like to see is a "cheap cable modem companion," something that would provide at least some protection for the people that aren't gurus, and (horrors!) might not even be using some form of *nix. That's where the massive vulnerabilities lie; that's where adding a firewall has most merit.

  • In the deep dark mists of the past, the phone companies doubtless worried of the same issue of saturation. After all, they had sold a whopping pile of phones (well, more like "rented a whopping pile," but close enough...), and virtually every home had one.

    But not to worry... They had not accounted for the fact that you might want to have more than one telephone. Personally, I have two telephones in my apartment, and connect to my ISP and to TiVo service using the one line as well. Add to that the "mobile telephony" equipment...

    The parallels to computing should be blatantly obvious; families already have the issue of family members "disputing" over who gets to use the computer.

    In the long run, it would make a whopping lot of sense for there to be a whole "horde" of computers in a home, between:

    • One used for "communications control."

      Whether firewall or "Internet Services Server," this option seems eminently likely.

      What The World Really Needs is a $250 firewall box that runs Linux, and integrates in a cable modem and an Ethernet hub. No screen, by default; perhaps not even a hard drive.

    • One for each adult, potentially allowing them to VPN out to get at systems and applications at work.
    • If there are the Standard 2.2 kids, there might be 2 computers in the "kids' zone" so they may simultaneously work on homework, and/or play games with one another.
    • There might be something integrated into the "Audio/Visual Systems," whether as a controller for DVD 'stuff,' MP3 'stuff,' or other such.
    • There might be value in having a computer with touch-sensitive LCD that attaches to the fridge to allow entering appointment/schedule information.
    • In the bedroom, there might be a computer to run the "feelies." (Shades of Huxley, anyone? :-))
    • In the basement, the HVAC controller might get integrated into the "home network."

    To be sure, not all of these are practical applications at present, but the fact that it's easy to come up with additional such uses is pretty suggestive that those that think the markets are "saturated" probably haven't thought hard enough.

  • I don't know much about KDE, but I regularly use Gnome on a Cyrix P-150 Plus with 64M of ram. Programs take longer to start than they do on the spiffy new hardware that I have a work, but once they are up and running, there is very little difference.

    Of course, I don't generally use that machine to render POV-ray scenes either. I do a fair bit of Python development, and you can always count on at least one copy of Emacs and several Mozilla windows open.

    Yes, there will continue to be new and exciting developments, and these developments will continue to drive hardware sales. But for most things that people do the newest fancy-dan hardware is gross overkill. I mean really, who needs a Pentium IV to surf the web and do a little word processing?

    Now, if you are going to develop some monstrous program in a compiled language, or if you are going to do a lot of graphics editting, or if you want to play the newest PC game, then it may be worth your while to spring for monstrous hardware, but otherwise it almost certainly isn't.

    Consumers are starting to realize this. What's worse (for the PC manufacturers anyway) when consumers do go out and buy a new machine, a good percentage of them are spending $400 instead of $2000. After all, the difference between the $400 machine and the $2000 machine is that the $400 machine is obsolete 3 months earlier.

    All in all, unless there is a serious change in how computers are used (like widespread use of voice recognition software or some other CPU burner) I think that the PC industry is in for more that just a speed bump.

  • Wow, I guess you're not going to be upgrading your PC until the year 2030, eh?
  • I think people will always need new computers just like they will always need new washing machines or televisions. Sales need to slow down as the recent boom has been ridiculous. I think people have grown tired of the numbers game where as soon as everybody has a xxxMhz computer they are told they need a yyyMhz computer. For a while we all felt the need to buy the latest number and dumped our "old" (probably only 6 months old) machine on the nearest newbie.

    I, and a lot of my friends, have tired of this and my current machine is a 450 PIII which does me great even though there are plenty of newer numbers on the market.

    To me, this is just a case of customers finally taking control of the market.
  • Those 10 computers weren't going to cost $1000 each in their vision. ESA didn't think they would need to launch a hundred million satelites to make investment in the new Ariane profitable either.
  • People don't need the latest and greatest PCs, just like people don't need $40,000 SUVs, or $500,000 McMansions. But they buy a helluva lot of all three in my neighborhood (in Michigan, no less). And lets face it, shelling out $3K for the latest and greatest PC (subsidized by whatever the old PC fetches) isn't overly difficult for the upper half in America, and that price point keeps getting lower.

    My state-of-the-art Athlon box at home whomps the 2-year-old Dell P2-400 box (that was close to state of the art at the time) when it comes to Java development, Quake, and everything else that can make use of processor cycles. Screw the cost/benefit analysis, just gimme.

    Personally, I can't wait for dual 1.5GHz Athlon boxes early next year...

  • Maybe I just finally got that hardware monkey off my back, but I haven't had the urge to go buy upgrades for quite a while. 17" monitor, 128M ram, 2x450Mhz Celerons, AGP TNT, and about 15 gigs of disk space. That's pretty old hardware, by today's standards, but I don't really feel like it's slowing me down (except when I recompile glibc.... yeesh...)

    Some of it is that I'm not playing games so much anymore (I really think games drive cutting edge PC hardware in the consumer space...) but I just haven't seen the need to upgrade.

    Has hardware temporarily outpaced applications? 1.3Ghz processors, 60MB hard drives, video cards with outrigger power supplies... maybe I'm out of touch. Who needs it right now, in Q4 2000?


    ---

  • Just make sure the next version of MS-OS requires a 128bit, 9 stage pipelined, superscalar, 6 ops/click, 1Ghz or better, quarter or half Gig of memory, a new video design, a new HCL, new different board connectors, a 'better' bus design, a proprietary DSP interface, host processing everything and you will insure that people will buy new PC's - Afterall what kind of performance can you expect out of Word with only a Pentium2-266? Not much.
  • The cost of upgrading software in the corporate environ is at least 7-9x more than the cost of replacing hardware that is on a 3 year depreciation schedule. Mostly because of the labor involved. Even if you have a sophisticated ESD tool the work in packaging and testing the deployable bundles is quite high compared to the expense of writing off the old HW and shipping new. But that's not the problem. The problem is that many corps have SW maintenance agreements with VARs and resellers - not SW houses. What happens is that MS-Something gets deployed after much bloodshed. The next year the VAR comes back and 'suggests' that the customer now upgrade to MS-Something+1. Corp says yes because why else are they paying 15-18% year over year to maintain it if they're not going to upgrade and the VAR is probably telling the customer that if they wait another year they won't get the great price break they can ostensibly get now. After all they've paid for it already up front and the VAR won't be able to get favorable terms from MS a year after introduction and certainly can't skip a level in the MS mandated update cycle.

    ...Anyway.....

    With each new turn of the crank comes a bundle of MS software that takes more and more hardware. More of everything. Office 2000 can't effectively run on a machine with <128MB RAM, 400MB of disk and at least a 500Mhz CPU. At least not with the performance expectation in a corporate environment that the customer has come to expect fomr the last version.

    A couple-three iterations of this and you replacing the hardware faster than the depreciation schedule and so it goes. The hardware upgrade-replacement arms rae goes out of control.
  • I would think shrinking profit margins would be the biggest problem. PCs are becoming more of a commodity item.

    Look at the new systems from Compaq, HP, and IBM. They are small, cheap, boxes. If it breaks, exchange it for a new box and throw it away. They are built more like a consumer appliance than a traditional computer.

    Bottom of the line disk drives have more storage than most people will use.

    Cheap video cards/chips have more than enough performance for anyone who isn't a Quake fanatic.

    Intel has screwed up on the introduction of new and improved CPUs. I used to think about upgrading/replacing my computer when a new CPU ran 4x faster than my current CPU. It is going to be a while before there is something 4x faster than a 500 MHz Pentium III.

  • Make TV programs on your computer.

    What? Steve Wozniak did this in 1977?
    Next idea ...

  • "on the other hand, how far away are we from people having enough processing power to not want/need to upgrade anymore?"

    I used to be a total and devout speed addict, to the point of slowing down the refresh rate on my turbo-PCclones to squeeze an extra 2-3% out of them, running a program to determine the idea HD interleave factor *and* skew rate, and de-fragging the disk every night as I was leaving work.

    Now, however, my partner has a K6-2 500, and I've got the 400. I'm looking at building a new machine ... for *her*, not for me.

    Seems I no longer really do much that needs that much speed. Even fancier new games leave me cold.

    Sure, I probably will buy new stuff, eventually, but I'm no longer addicted to it. The growth *is* stopping.
  • I would have said that before experiencing it firsthand. Sounds lame, I know... but it's actually more difficult and costly to upgrade a piece at a time than it is to simply say 'this year, we're using XXX.

    Why? Stuff breaks.. you end up with computers with different hardware.. support gets harder.... and it takes more time. Sure, you could get more employees.... low-level tech persons. But that's more money again.. more than you think, once you account for benefits, office space, etc...

    Now, I'm not saying it's not cheaper.. but it's a lot more logistics for a small improvement in price.

  • yeah.. and that is just *soo* hard to fix.
    SOrry for the snotty tone.. but it really pisses me off how obscure VPN stuff always seems to be.

    It's SO SIMPLE to fix.
    A nat/firewall box that supports ipsec? SURE! Why the hell not? I could sure use one.
  • "Trying to run GNOME, KDE, or E on anything less than a well equiped Pentium class computer
    will leave you in the cold really fast"

    So don't run Gnome or KDE.
    If you don't want it - don't include it.
    Its your operating system, its your choice.
    There's several other wlightweight window managers out there.

    Why did you want to run X again?
  • Capitalism is the world's largest pyramid scheme.

    Well, not quite--although it can seem that way. Basically the weirdness boils down to this: I trade you three chickens for one cow. I am better off, my by own standards, because I have a cow; you are better off, by your standards, because you have three chickens. We're both better off an richer--we created value in our transaction. It's an odd thought, and one that took me quite some time to wrap my head around.

    Pyramid schemes don't work because eventually value stops being pumped in at the lower levels. But in an economy it is constantly being pumped in. I work a certain amount each day because it is worth that much money to give up that much of my free time--I feel better off for it, and IBM feel better for utilising my labour. I then spend that money on various goods--I prefer the goods to the money, which I had preferred to my free time, yet the sellers prefer the money to their goods. They in turn use their money to purchase other goods. We all consume our goods (read books, eat food, hang art on the walls &c.) and, desiring more, repeat the cycle. We are all better off than before--no-one loses. It's not a zero-sum game.

    But yes, it is really very odd until one grasps it. Can't say that I entirely have, myself.

  • You said it yourself, games drive the hardware. The only problem with games is, they're all the same nowadays, and I don't really feel like playing 100 different games that more or less resemble quake.

    Whats truely sad about all this is that I am a gamer in heart. I grew up playing games. When I was younger, the one thing I wanted to do when I got older was to be a game programmer. I spent many MANY long days learning programming for the sole purpose of following this dream.

    Now I want practically nothing to do with it. Perhaps others feel the same way. We WOULD keep upgrading if our need for the latest and greatest was more focused. I, however, at this point spend a lot of time scavenging. Low end pentium systems are practically being given away now and they have quite a bit of life in them as linux systems. I've got my whole house populated with workstations for less than the cost of one new computer.

    About the only reason I'd consider a system over 200 mhz would be for playback of the more processor intensive video clips (divx, etc), however since there isn't linux support for them yet, and since mpeg's work just fine under linux.
    There.. I just talked myself out of an upgrade yet again. The economy as we know it will collapse in upon itself now. You can all blame me. :)

    -Restil
  • If we're near saturation point for PC's then we must be super-saturated for stereos, TV's, VCR's, cameras, cars....

    It's wonderful the way this stuff lasts forever, always stays in fashios, and magically updates itself to the latest capabilities, isn't it?!
  • > "Capitalism is the world's largest pyramid scheme"

    I can see the next spam wave already..

    "That's right, and the great thing about our UNIQUE system it is that it REALLY WORKS! THAT'S RIGHT! YOU TOO CAN EARN BUCKETS OF MONEY BY WORKING THE SYSTEM! BY DOING A FEW SIMPLE THINGS YOU TOO CAN EARN OVER 50,000$ A YEAR!"

    "Apply now and we'll send you our FREE information pack, 'GET OFF YOUR FAT BUTT AND FIND A JOB', for only $29.95!"
  • Actually, the birth rate in the USA is below replacement level. In other words, if it weren't for immigration, the population of the USA would be shrinking.


    --

  • it really makes a guy wonder where America's priorities are, when the rest of the world doesn't have the -time- to mess with computers. It really makes me value my ability to sit at my computer for endless hours just learning and doing constructive things. (granted, I'm a student)

    makes me quite grateful I was born in the USA. :)

    -------
    CAIMLAS

  • ... and most people see fit to simply replace them, rather than have somebody take a look at it and fix it. By the time a little-used machine of today goes caput, it will be so obsolete that it won't be worth trying to fix it.

    So, sure, maybe people won't be so thrilled about buying new PCs. But when hard drives crash, CPU fans go out, power supplies bite the dust, and lightning strikes, a lot of people are going to find it worth their while to buy a new PC rather than trying to get their old one fixed, especially if it's a couple years down the road.

  • Are we going to stop buying cars too? We all know a personal computer is not an end-all investment. Of course, we could all go around surfing the web in our '78 Chevy Malibus if we want to. :D

    Don't cars tend to follow a "Boom-Bust" cycle? At least they used to. The computer industry may be entering a similar phase. Most people buy a computer, keep it for a few years, and buy a new one a couple of years later. If everyone has a computer, they will be buying their machines at the same time and upgrading at the same time. This would lead to a boom-bust cycle for the computer industry with computer sales peaking and slumping every few years.
  • Start up companies buy plenty of PCs.
    I bet if you asked, "Are you planning on buying a new computer in the next 6 months?" on a Slashdot poll the majority would say yes.
    What about schools that need new PCs?
    I think that companies that exclusively make PCs (ie. Dell, Compaq, Gateway) may be a little trouble. Lots of buyers buy custom built computers that are made part by part, instead of a nice new Compaq Presario desktop.
    Interesting idea though, I think it'll be a little more valid in about 10, 15 years.

    BTW, sorry for using "nice" and "Compaq" in the same sentence.
  • People get used to the luxuries [X] and start to regard them as necessities.

    About a year ago at this time, I made a statement, in front of several witnessess...

    "The only reason I use X at all is so I can have an Emacs with more than 24 lines."

    (This actually led to an interesting argument over text-mode fonts, but that's beside the point.) I was completely serious. I didn't have Linux on my PC yet, I was just using it on my laptop, and X was, in my opinion, completely unnecessary for anything I wanted to do, not to mention the fact that it's incredibly slow to load when I'm using battery power (on airplanes, etc.). But then I found an X application that I couldn't live without.

    kcribbage

    Yes, the reason I ever started using X regularly was just so that I could play kcribbage. It's like some sort of... fiend in control of my brain. *sigh* I wish I was obsessed with a cool game.

  • no one ever said that sales would be zero... it said that *growth* would be zero.
  • New bussinesses do start each year. The question is how many, and what they contribute to demand. If they contribute a great deal, they can reduce demand if fewer start this year than last. Sales are flat so whatever contribution new bussiness is making has to be canceled out by something else.

    This kind of slow down has happened before. It only takes a while for something else to come along.

    It's about time for a change. PC's are essentially the same box they were when IBM made it's first; A box with a CRT on it. Granted, that box has gotten better, and so has the CRT, but the improvements have been less extreem and the need to upgrade has declined.

    I'm looking for growth in clipboards and PDAs. You know, like the UPS dude lugs around. Those things can get rid of piles of paper. It's not a matter of power, but size and shape.

  • Can you tell my why sales for other items have not grown any faster than the population? Women's make up, panty hose, automobile sales? There comes a time when the only way to increase sales is to make your product break faster or dependent on another product. Even then your fix is temporary as others will steal your market. Nothing grows forever.
  • We need billboards that move! That static cowboy that blots out the sun is just not good enough. I want him to ride and caugh his lungs out. Do you know what happened to Dick Tracey's phone? I do! It got bigger and better.

    I saw a movie like this once too. All the billboards moved and talked and looked at you. It was cool, and they did it all with tubes and B&W TVs. In the end I think it was zero growth too. That's why they were at war all the time.

    Someone told me that Bill Gate's house looked like this, but he used LCDs for his wallpaper. He would like to have such things in everyone's house and is working on a special OS for it. Content will be provided by MPAA, and RIAA, because he knows that we want more than we can think up ourselves. This will be good.

    CPU production up 534%. LCD production up 10,000%.

  • Games are one of the driving forces that have pushed PC's from being monochrome text-based consoles to what we have today. So long as games companies keep demanding more state of the art machines for their games to run on, and so long as people keep wanting to play games (computer games industry was set to make more money than hollywood I believe this year) I think PC sales will still have some legs in 'em. Those folks up in Redmond don't mind jacking up the requirements for their OS to run either, so I can see that as a driving force behind continuing PC sales (for a couple of years more at least :)).
  • People seem to think that evolution is an intelligent process - that things are evolving towards some abstract ideal rather than adapting to a particular environment. But I'm as clueless as you as to why this should be the case. People seem to follow a sort of reverse Occam's Razor - if something appears to operate in a directed fashion, then it's the product of some sort of intelligent agent. The idea that random effects constrained by a few simple principles can result in highly directed behavior seems incomprehensible to many.
  • People do ned to upgrade and people still need new computers.

    Do they? Obviously, at some point, you'll need to replace your current system. But the need to upgrade is nowhere near as pressing as in the past. The difference in discernable performance (as opposed to benchmarks) between steps is much less than it used to be. Just how much power do you need to run a word processor or email? I'm running Windows 2000 on a Celeron 400. This is far, far from a state of the art machine but I don't feel a great need to upgrade. Performance for most of the stuff I'm doing is more than acceptable. The system doesn't feel sluggish at all. (I'm running 256 meg of RAM, of course.)

    Would I like to have a 1GHz+ machine? Certainly. But I've used a 1GHz machine and it simply doesn't feel that much faster than my system at home. When I was running a 486DX4120 and they brought in Pentium systems at work, I was quick to upgrade. My system at home felt like a snail. Same with the PII vs the Pentium and even, to a lesser extent, the PII400 vs my old PII 233.

    If you're a graphic artist, a developer doing extensive compiles of large projects, etc. you'll benifit from the latest, most powerful machines. But that's only a fraction of the PC market.

    Eventually, I'll replace/upgrade this system. But my upgrade cycles used to be measured in months. Now, its in years. And I suspect I'm not atypical in that regard.

  • I think that articles like this have no purpose but for the authors to play with the stock market.

    Perhaps you're right on this one. I just got finished reading about how foolish it is to buy Dell stock right now. From Dell's IPO up until it's peak at in 2000, their stock has gone up 8000%. Do you think they can repeat that? No way. If people are looking for a repeat of 8000% growth, they need their head examined.

    However, abroad, there is a massive need for computers.

    To a certain extent yes, but keep in mind what exactly the rest of the world is composed of. Do you think there will be overwhelming demand in Africa, China or the Eastern Bloc countries (Russia, it's satellites and former parts of Russia that are now independent) which are now Third World nations? IMO, the demand will be high (ie: everyone wants one), but few can afford one. The rest of the world is primarly composted of Second and Third World nations.

    The only part of the world I cannot give an opinion on is Europe. Does anyone have any statistics as to what percentage of people own computers in Europe?
  • I think that articles like this have no purpose but for the authors to play with the stock market.

    Of course in the US sales are declining. As computers stop being ooh-cool-shiny-new-toy objects, and become work tools, they decrease in sales. Their glamour has decreased. However, abroad, there is a massive need for computers. Perhaps the decreases here will decrease prices, as basic economic rules predict, and will make them more attractive to foreign customers.
  • Well, I think the point here is that there are no new people buying computers, since everyone who is going to get one has one. That's not to say that people aren't going to continue to buy new ones, just that there won't be any new customers. Thus 0 market growth. Companies can still sell PC's, but the upward trend will have a finite limit.
  • Sales aren't decreasing. The rate of GROWTH of sales is decreasing. Big difference. Aside form having no juice to run them, as one post suggests, there are a shitload of folks out there in the big world who have no use for these bloody contraptions. They're too busy planting rice or whatever, or dodging bullets from the local insurrection. I'm always amazed that computers and the net haven't widened horizons as regards the real world out there. The unwired one. The one that 99% of humanity hangs out in. The one that isn't attached to a keyboard and has nothing to do with writing code and trying to convince one of these contrary machines to do something it doesn't want to. Contrary to geek philosophy, the unwired world is a very exciting place to hang out. I'm not sure we do the folks who hang out there a favour by innundating them in beige boxes. What the hell would they do with them? We can afford to avoid reality by immersing ourselves in video games. Those folks miss a minute they starve. Get real.
  • Mostly, my personal anger over the inability of the market and the gov't to do with the various computing monopolies, of the hardware and software ilk, has led me to drastically curtail my PC purchasing.

    I was upgrading or buying a faster PC every several months, but that's over til I see:

    a) Microsoft broken up, and wider use of Linux on the desktop;
    b) Higher AMD penetration/dual CPU mobos based on "other than intel" technology.

    So, I guess it's fair to say that if there's a major setback for m-soft (perhaps accompanied with a major breakthrough for Linux), as well as some dual t-bird mobos, I'd probably chunk down for a $1500 upgrade or so.

    But I'm kinda in wait-and-see mode for now, saving my money and investing, etc in case of a industry crash.

    Have bought a few hardware-type things -- Linux compatable frame grabber and am in the process of researching a camcorder. Also a electric piano. But all PC related purchases are on hold til the market gains some sanity.
  • No kidding. Of course PC sales will saturate. In fact, for some segments of the market they already have. I know one guy who is a lawyer. He only uses his PC for word processing. It's a 486 with Windows 3.1 on it. It's all he needs. It's all he'll ever need. He won't buy a new one until this one breaks.

    This doesn't mean box makers are going to go out of business. It just means they will become more like ordinary companies. The business will "grow up" and become like RCA, Zenith, or any other TV-set manufacturer was during the 70s and 80s.

    There will still be growth in game machines, where hot new graphics are coming out all the time, but even that will reach a saturation point. When the video card can do real-time raytracing at resolutions such that the human eye cannot see pixels, where do you go from there? You don't go anywhere. That's where the card has reached the saturation point. We've obviously got some ways to go there, but when we reach it then video cards become boring commodity products--like pots and pans. When was the last time a frying-pan company made stockholders rich?

    So, if you wanna invest in a company with double-digit annual growth, start to think about looking someplace other than software and PC makers. I've got some ideas, but I'm not disclosing.

  • Computers are becoming faster and cheaper every day while applications that require top-of-the-line systems are few and far between. A computer bought today (or even last year) for $2500 will most likely remain useful for a good deal longer than a computer bought more than a few years ago for the same price.

    Computer sales are slowing because of this. The reason people in the U.S. are buying less computers is because they don't need to. Overall system requirements for applications aren't rising at the same rate technology is.

  • The little startup I worked at bought several PCs each week. Nice, new PCs, for a nice, new company.
  • The logical next step...

    No.

    The logical next step has already been taken by Apple. [apple.com]

    Cf. the history of the automobile industry.
  • ... let's face it, a lot of people just buy a computer to do email and surf the web ... and with still most online are navigating on a 28k connection (yeah, 56k modems but it is real rare to get a true connection above 33k ... at least in America ...) ... even when broadband options are available, only a small percentage of people sign up for service - until that happens, net usage on a small pipe really doesn't need all that CPU ...

    And if we have to wait for some technician from Q-Worst, baby bells, etc. ... to physically visit each home to install broadband to customers who have no clue, well, it's going to be awhile ... and given the problems and delays that people have experienced with both @home and DSL, it might be a while before all the kinks are worked out ... and broadband includes a "broad" customer base ...

  • Another factor to take into consideration are the people who don't have a concept of speed variation in computer. A computer is a computer to them...a 486 is just as good as a Pentium 800, right? I mean, it's a computer, it can do anything!
  • 5 people live on a street. They each buy a new computer every 2 years. That means, that the sales on that street are still 2.5 computers per year. Constant. Meaning zero GROWTH. It's amazing how many people have responded to this article with the idea that growth is the same as sales.
  • Well, some posts seem to grok what's happening, but not all at once.

    It's simple, really:

    1. What we need/want/desire is faster Internet connections. Once you're beyond 250MHz and have at least 128MB RAM, who cares about processor speed?

    2. Games, games, games. Just bought me another Linux game at Pacific Place EBX. It's games that drive computer purchases. I don't need better, faster, more spiffy stuff right now and, even if I did, I'm not buying W2K games, only Mac and Linux games. OK, I did buy The Sims, but I'm weak. So, until they start making high hardware demand games and drivers for Linux, I have no reason to buy new boxen.

    3. Linux. Yes, you heard me right, Linux. When I can take all my old boxen and turn them into new computers, why would I want to spend extra bux on new boxen? Besides, I've already got two dual-processor 450MHz PIIs, and I still have lots of space to cram more RAM into those babies.

    4. George Wussy Bush. Yup. Look, he just reminds me that Texas (where I was born, at Lackland AFB, unlike the Wussman who didn't even show up to fly jets for two years as an AWOL draft dodger) is where they make all those chip things. And I'm not subsidizing him. Call me crazy, call me vengeful, but until that scary toad is kicked in the behind by the American public, ain't no money of mine going to Texas. Or any firm (like Seibel) that supports that SOB.

    So, you probably agree with at least three of my points, right?

  • Yes, sales growth in the U.S. will start to trend toward zero compared to the '90s average of 15-20% oer year. After all, auto sales growth in the U.S. in the long run pegs pretty closely to per capita income increases and population growth; it's otherwise basically static.

    No, we're not to that point in the U.S. We're looking at a era where sales growth will seriously decline in dollar terms, and growth in units decline somewhat. Sub-$300 computers (including monitor and printer, with no gimick rebates) are the future of sales growth in the remaining 41% of computerless households. (To switch analogies -- in the mid '80s VCRs were in the $1,500 range, and today they're $99.)
  • Er, it said there'd be a end to sales growth

    Well, guess what? Average car sales growth is essentially zero after accounting for population increase and per capita income increase.
  • 59% of households have computers. 100% of households would merely means a minnimum of 1 computer for every 3.4ish people (IIRC), because that's the size of the average household. 59% of 1/3.4 equals 17%.

    So 20% of the population owns computers; 60% of the population lives in a household where somebody owns a computer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 15, 2000 @06:41PM (#704033)
    hi all (george here)

    well this is real disturbing. part of the problem is that a lot of the people who COULD use computers CAN'T because they don't have any juice (electricity) to run them on. but i look at africa and i see a HUGE untapped market because there are lots of people there but no computers. but see they CAN'T run computer's because they don't have electricity. this is why i believe that the united states should invest heavily in bringing electricity to africa. now don't say that you don't want your tax payer dollars going there, we could have private companies like COMPAQ foot most of the bill, after all they will get all that money back when tribes purchase presarios to track grain usage and other such tribal things.

    but this whole computer thing is a REAL PROBLEM. i was watching fox news channel with my wife the other day and this man from the kato institute said that micro soft would go out of business in eight years if electricity was not brought to africa. and since africans generally dont fly kites i don't think they will discover it like ben franklin did (he got hit by lightning.) so we need to BRING it THERE. seriously if average africans got computers they're economy would be much better, and they could afford more food. we know that lots of computers gives a very good economy, look at us in america, we have the best economy ever. in the HISTORY of the planet. so if sally struthers wants to make the problem worse, let her, but we can do much better.

    so let's have COMPAQ and IBM and DELL wire africa for electricity, it will be much better, and our high-tech companies won't go bankrupt, that would be bad since many 401 k programs invest in high tech companies and i (george) want to buy a boat when i retire.

    -gbd
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 16, 2000 @04:23AM (#704034)
    Most people use their PCs to surf the web, read email, type up and print a few documents, and maybe balance their budget. That's it.

    Who needs the latest GHz PC for this?

    The slump in PC sales is a result of hardware performance getting waaaay ahead of software demand... at least for the basic stuff. Yes, I know the Quake freaks will shell out for a new system every 3 months if it gets them one extra FPS, but these are very few. Besides, if you're a Dad and don't want the kids monopolizing your PC with games, what better way than to have an od P133 with 16MB on your desktop? It serves you, not the gamerz d00dz. Heh heh heh. And runs (non-X) Linux just fine.

  • by The Man ( 684 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @07:23PM (#704035) Homepage
    most people all over the world have never even touched a computer, never mind owned one, because everyday needs take priority

    What a concept. Things that actually matter being given priority over having the next mobile portable wireless e-commerce-enabled global pocket-sized buzzword-integrating dot-com-partner-program-patented iGadget. If not for the despotism, lack of natural resources, and CIA interventions, the third world nations would have passed us up long ago while we were too busy hyping the latest useless product to even take notice.

    IBM claimed there was a need for about 10 computers in the world. I've come to realize that they were right. What IBM forgot to take into account is the number of products you can sell to people who don't need them. In the case of the hype-saturated computer industry, that number is huge and constitutes essentially 100% of the business.

    As long as there are stupid people, the peecee industry will continue to roll. Ain't no end in sight from where I stand.

  • The author of the article is NOT talking about SALES of computer going to 0. He is saying that PC SALES GROWTH may goto 0 in 2 years...

    Doesn't ANYONE read the damn articles before they post????
  • by Uruk ( 4907 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @06:36PM (#704037)
    They seem to be VASTLY underestimating sales people.

    What do they do? When the need or desire isn't there, they CREATE the need or desire. So the market is saturated? So what? The only difference is that instead of giving people what they already know that they want or need, you'll have to start convincing them that they need something that they actually don't.

    This has been done for CENTURIES by salespeople. It's being done today in radio and TV ads (among other places). Growth in sales of items only stops in one of two conditions as far as I can tell:

    • Your clientele is out of money
    • Your salespeople are bums and can't come up with any new ideas


    #2 is never the case. And we know that #1 isn't the case either.

  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Monday October 16, 2000 @03:47AM (#704038)
    The ultimate computer-telecom revolution will be interactive video access to communications, entertainment and computing everywhere. Whether this is manifested as a computer screen in every room, office, & vehicle, portable video-com devices (ala Earth Final Conflict), or some combination of the two is unknown. There is still a considerable of computing, broadband, and software necessary to be developed.

    Humans are basically visual and audio creatures. The current text-still graphics computer interfaces and audio communications devices are substandard.

  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @09:22PM (#704039)
    Having been on the consumer end of the home-pc market for a long time.. I can say...

    know how we've always mentioned, when new, faster boxes come out, that part of the reason we need them is becuase the software is getting more bloated? That's been happening at a faster and faster rate as well.

    We're at the point where my few year old Cerelon 300A/450 still does me *fine*, and I'm a computer geek. Sure... A PIII is faster.. but for what.. some games? Because that's about it. Sure.. if I was doing renders or other compute intensive tasks, I would want a faster machine... but really. Now they talk P-IV? Gimme a break.

    Oh.. and on the business side of things.
    Sure, I have a cad guy who wouldn't mind a faster machine.. and some programmers that like instant compiles, but for the most part, nobody *needs* anything faster than the PII/PIII they have now. It will be a couple years before we buy new computers, unless they are application specific boxes, like servers.
  • by DoorFrame ( 22108 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @06:25PM (#704040) Homepage
    Are you saying that everyday needs do not include downloading porn and refreshing slashdot? I don't think so.
  • by Restil ( 31903 ) on Monday October 16, 2000 @12:30AM (#704041) Homepage
    What The World Really Needs is a $250 firewall box that runs Linux

    This reminds me of something. I was at the First Saturday sidewalk sale in Dallas the previous weekend and two guys approached me trying to peddle their firewall system which would *gasp* allow me to run more than one computer off my high speed internet connection. For a very brief moment I was amazed by such a possibility, until I remembered that I was already doing this.

    But wait, THEIR firewall might be far superiour to mine, so I should probably review their product before dismissing it outright. Reading over the single sheet brochure they provided me, the first thing I noticed was that it would support up to 10 computers. This was the first hurdle. I informed them that I am currently running 12 computers on my network, so their product would limit me in that regard.

    But no fear, they told me that it would most likely handle more than 10 computers on a network, but the average consumer never used that many on a home network, so it didn't make sense to test it for more than that. Well, I suppose he had a point, except that the "average consumer" usually doesn't do their computer shopping at parking lots in downtown Dallas at 1 in the morning from people who are selling used computer equipment off the back of their trucks. But I digress.

    So I questioned further, in case there were features which I hadn't discovered yet that I absolutely needed. I asked how many internet ip addresses I could get. 1

    ONE

    Not 16 like I have now, but ONE. I ran some figures through my head, trying to figure out how I could run all my servers off of a single ip address. Ah HA. the solution, its so simple. IPCHAINS supports port forwarding. No problem. But wait. Problem. Their firewall doesn't. Well, it might, but the ever vigilant salesmen weren't aware of that feature.

    At this point I was really grasping for straws, trying to find any reason why I should just dismiss them like AOL'ers who were trying to convince a guy with a T3 that he should switch to AOL with a dialup because its a better internet. No, I don't have a T3, I was just attempting to be funny. Feel free not to laugh, I don't care.

    Ok. I thought proudly of my linux box at home with its two network cards that does everything and then some that their box does. Cost me $30 my box did, and that included both PCI network cards. But here's the kicker. I had to put my system together myself. I had to install the operating system. I had to configure ipfwadm (still using 2.0.35) ALL BY MYSELF WITH NO HELP FROM ANYONE (unless you consider reading man pages and howto's to be help).

    They, however, install the product FOR YOU, so you don't have to do it. I'm sure they charge a fair price for the trouble, however, I didn't ask. I might have laughed too loudly, and milk might have come out of my nose, and that would just be too embarrasing.

    Ok.. Just in an attempt to stay on topic... I was referring to the price of the firewall. It wouldn't need to cost $250 unless it was EXTREMELY tiny and didn't use a standard MB. I suppose that would be worth something, but I don't personally find space to be much of an issue.

    -Restil
  • by Mark F. Komarinski ( 97174 ) on Monday October 16, 2000 @04:56AM (#704042) Homepage
    There's a difference between sales growth and profit growth. If you sell 1000 units in both 1999 and 2000, but make a $10k profit in 1999 and $20k profit in 2000, have you grown?

    Nor are these companies stupid. Gateway, Compaq, and Dell are all getting into different markets, because they *know* that sales growth of PCs will start to plateau. They've been selling PCs for nearly 20 years. They've grown enough where they can start to look into new markets (CPQ buys Digital, Dell gets into the server market, Gateway gets into the netapps).

    While PC sales growth may not increase, don't think the companies are going to go under overnight, or that their stock prices will fall.
  • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Monday October 16, 2000 @02:57AM (#704043) Homepage Journal
    If not for the despotism, lack of natural resources, and CIA interventions, the third world nations would have passed us up long ago while we were too busy hyping the latest useless product to even take notice.

    Why would the CIA interveen where there are no natural reaources? Are you calling us stupid?

    I'd also like to share some of the credit with others who deserve it. Our former mentors at M.I. 5 and 6, our rivals from the KGB, and some of the newer boys on the block from Cuba, Isreal, South Africa, and lots of other home grown tallent have helped out out all along. While most of these newer groups have concentrated their efforts on domestic affairs, some like Cuba have really shone bright. Think of where the world would be without nearly limitless quantities of cheap Soviet made weapons like the AK-47, munitions and landmines quality made to last for decades. Recognizing the accomplishments of these groups is a matter of profesional pride.

    As for that 10 computer quip, do you have any idea how many machines Carnivore alone will take? While it's true that you do not need a computer, we need many. You obviously have no idea of what it takes to run a competent government, but that's OK. Just keep paying your taxes. The less you want the more we can take.

    Agent X, masked as twitter for the sake of anonymity.

  • by -brazil- ( 111867 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @09:33PM (#704044) Homepage
    Its your operating system, its your choice.

    Sure. And why are you not using a C64 anymore? People get used to the luxuries and start to regard them as necessities. Try to tell you typical Joe Doe computer user to use a text-terminal based editor for his letters, instead of M$ Word. Pay good attential to the look of total incredulity on his/her face. That't exactly the same look you will receive in 10 years if you suggest that a mouse and 1024x768 X screen are perfectly sufficient to get the work done and people don't need VR sets and speech recognition.

  • by DR_glock ( 129204 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @06:30PM (#704045)
    Are we going to stop buying cars too? We all know a personal computer is not an end-all investment. Of course, we could all go around surfing the web in our '78 Chevy Malibus if we want to. :D
  • by dmsmith ( 163496 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @06:48PM (#704046)
    Slowing down, eventually stopping *growing*.

    Although the article is trying to paint a picture of doom and gloom with comments like "No one was shopping for a new computer.",it is actually talking about the growth rate. No where did it mention a reduction in the numbers of computers being sold, rather a lower amount of an increase in the numbers of computer being sold.

    Last time I recall seeing the stat's on computer ownership in the USA (which was a month or three ago) it was at around one fifth of the population, approximately 50mil people. Where do the writers of this article come up with the idea that "...the majority of households own personal computers..."? Then again, 50.1% is a majority so I guess it all depends on your interpretation.

    -- David Smith
    C:\ is the root of all evil
  • by ChaoticCoyote ( 195677 ) on Monday October 16, 2000 @03:22AM (#704047) Homepage

    ...and despite propaganda to the contrary, very few people (in a global sense) will ever feed themselves through computer-derived income.

    The dominant society's media continue to spew the illusion that everyone -- from the broker to the villager -- is going to make their fortune on the web. But, of course, the Wall Street broker was making money well-before the web became reality, and a Lakota villager is still poor even after a century of "benefiting" from Western technology.

    In "Indian Country", I've seen the federal government bring computers into Native American schools. Those same schools lack the electricity to run the computers; the toilets don't flush, and the teacher know nothing about the hardware or software. While the media spews images of broadband access, the kids in those schools are still trying to get the toilet in their house connected to a sewer!

    Under the current socio-economic system, there exists a definite limit on how many computers can be sold -- a limit set by the number of people who can actually benefit from the technology.

  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @06:52PM (#704048)
    Cars are different as they may need replaced when they crash! Then again...
  • by vbrtrmn ( 62760 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @11:23PM (#704049) Homepage
    As an American, I feel obligated to go out and buy everything that my neighbors have.

    So far, I own ..
    5 SUVs, 3 hondas (Riced-Out), 10 computers (all Compaq, Acer, and Packard Bell), 2 bags of grass, 75 pellets of mescaline, 5 sheets of high-powered blotter acid, , a salt shaker half-full of cocaine and a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers... also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls... oh wait

    --
    you are not what you own
  • Many years ago (mid~late 80's) I remember being at a meeting of CIPS (Canadian Info Processing Society) where the luncheon speaker mentioned that most business analysts do minimal sanity checking on their growth predictions. To support his contention he mentioned that, if you followed the curve out, North American computer sales would exceed population by about 2001.

    My guess is that the supersaturation point has shifted but the curves remain roughly the same. The presumption of infinite geometric growth is central to most financial planning.

    As one friend of mine most sucinctly put it:
    "Capitalism is the world's largest pyramid scheme"
    `ø,,ø`ø,,ø!

  • by Fizgig ( 16368 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @06:41PM (#704051)
    But the point is that the market can't grow forever. Even if everybody in the US buys a new computer every year for the rest of their lives, that's zero growth after the first year. It's common sense, of course, that the market can't grow forever. Yet the stock prices for all of these companies were based on the assumption that they would continue to grow for a bazillion years. Which is why Timothy's comment isn't really appropriate. No one is saying that no one else needs a computer. They're saying no one else is buying a computer in the countries these companies operate in.
  • by bemis ( 29806 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @06:26PM (#704052) Homepage
    While yes this is an issue (most people having PCs) -- I believe that (in my experience working in tech-sales and service both) most people will want to purchase more computers as new technologies come out -- people are simply slowing down waiting for more...

    on the other hand, how far away are we from people having enough processing power to not want/need to upgrade anymore?

    bemis
    "dude -- what the fuck does LIL- mean again?!?"
  • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @06:38PM (#704053)
    How many times do we have to snicker at some IBM execs quote about the computers that is almost 60 years old. Think about it, IBM didn't say this in '79, but back in the 40's where no one here could even recognize a '40s computer if it fell on their head.

    If you think this is funny, try some futurists's sites, you'll fall over in laughter. Or check out what Arthur C. Clarke has written in the past 5 years about the future.
  • by MrBogus ( 173033 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @08:44PM (#704054)
    What's funny about people snicker at the quote is that they draw totally the wrong conclusion from it:

    IBM actually thought a world market of 10 computers was quite a few -- enough to warrant a major investment into the computer business.
  • by Throw Away Account ( 240185 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @08:01PM (#704055)
    Go ahead, wire Africa. I dare you.

    Per capita GDP in Rwanda is $720. That means the scrap value of the copper in that wire is worth the effort to steal. How long do you think it will stay wired?

Hackers of the world, unite!

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