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PC Makers May Be Left On the Shelves 186

An anonymous reader writes "With the problems posed by a new Microsoft OS, exploding laptop batteries, and changing technology, PC makers may be feeling this pinch this holiday season. Many consumers who are considering purchasing PC hardware are going to be holding off for next year, according to research analysts." From the article: "According to market researcher IDC, PC shipment growth slowed to 7.9 percent in the third quarter, from double-digit percentage growth in the prior three years. The battery recalls may cut into fourth quarter growth, IDC said. Bank of America on October 31 cut its 2006 PC growth forecast to 9.4 percent from 10 percent. All this suggests that consumers looking for bargain gifts may opt for less-expensive gadgets such as cell phones, digital music players, video phones or noise-cancelling headphones."
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PC Makers May Be Left On the Shelves

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  • by creimer ( 824291 )
    Many consumers who are considering purchasing PC hardware are going to be holding off for next year, according to research analysts.

    They're waiting for the new Mac models to be announced at MacWorld before buying a real PC with a real OS. :P
    • It's not so much the pre-installed OS, one can run a livecd linux [geocities.com] easily on the new machines. I see 2 GB of ram on many, for about $1500 for a loaded laptop, with a 256 MB ATI graphics card, and a Intel Centrino Duo, "Core 2 Duo inside" processor. Imagine, turning on the machine with the livecd already in the drive, and missing the Out of Box Experience for today, possibly putting it off until tomorrow. With 2 GB of ram, one can just do "toram" at the boot prompt, and quickly place the OS in ram, then remov
  • they will have had the best first quarter ever, with all the new sales thanks to Vista.
    • Are you talking about Apple?
    • Vista won't be driving hardware sales, and there certainly won't be a "best first quarter ever." Consumer buzz for Vista is actually very low.
      • by kabz ( 770151 )
        My experience of the 5744 Vista is that it's reasonable, but seems to be more unstable than XP. In particular, running any kind of games on my NVidia 6600GT will have it blue screen after a while. The FSX demo in particular really struggles unless you crank the desktop resolution down before starting it.

        There are a bunch of rough edges such as bytes/sec deleted not being updated when emptying the recycle bin. Err, just like XP then.

        It'll be interesting to see whether there are reports of widespread instabil
  • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Sunday November 05, 2006 @02:33AM (#16722845)
    A lot of gamers will opt for a Wii or a PS3 instead of a new PC this year as well. Not a good year to own Dell stock.
    • I'd agree with this as well ... it seems like there are far less breakout mass-market PC games available now than in the past, which can't bode well for higher end PCs.

      It's always possible my perception is just a reflection of the undeniable fact that I'm getting old ... although I can easily name 10-12 anticipated PS3 or Wii games, but can't name a single PC game that isn't geared towards mature audiences (a la Bully).
      • The odd thing is that I'm finding the opposite to be true. I have yet to find a reason to buy a 360, wii, or ps3. The only reason I may purchase a Wii is because I haven't played a zelda game in about 8 or so years (last one was on the SNES), and the controller looks interesting if it doesn't turn out to be a gimmick. Carcassone and Puerto Rico will be coming over to the 360, and that may interest me if it turns out any good. Perhaps in a few years the consoles will have alot more options that interest me.
        • I think a mistake microsoft made was making it so easy to tie in the 360 games with direct x to port games on both the PC and xbox. If you have a decent PC it gives you little incentive to get a 360.


          If they manage to end up making money form the xbox 360, then it may not be a mistake. I think in this regards, Microsoft knew many people wanted consoles and had to compensate, hence in the xbox and xbox 360. This is even more true as console increasingly become networkable. Currently the real advantages the P
        • http://blog.wired.com/games/2006/11/zelda_the_rea s o.html [wired.com]

          Go sit in front of your TV. After five minutes or so, look where your hands are. Likely they're just sprawled out at either side of your torso. Where they're likely not is sitting parallel to each other in the middle of your lap, where they'd be if you had a game controller. This isn't an unnatural position per se, but neither could it be called a rest position. Of course it works -- I've been doing it for twenty-odd years and have no problem with i

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        It's always possible my perception is just a reflection of the undeniable fact that I'm getting old ... although I can easily name 10-12 anticipated PS3 or Wii games, but can't name a single PC game that isn't geared towards mature audiences (a la Bully).

        I can only name a single new PC game that isn't geared towards immature audiences: Flight Simulator X. The rest, including Bully (or "Canis Canem Edit" as it's sold as in Europe), are definitely marketed towards the sub-35 crowd, and not mature audiences (

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )
      A lot of gamers will opt for a Wii or a PS3 instead of a new PC this year as well.

      Well, if the PS3 is reasonably successful it must be taking a big chunk out of the 500-600$ gaming PC market. I can't imagine they manage to sell it to the same 300$ market that Wii/xbox360 is aiming for. PS3 looks like the console for all the people that go "Yeah, I would like a simple console and not fiddle around with my PC all the time, and multiplayer would be nice... but PAL/NTSC graphics? I've had better on my PC now fo
  • ---insert 350 "they should get Macs instead!" posts here---
  • Maybe the way to get people into some new machines is to give them a genuinely new experience. You know the one with Ubuntu or SUSE installed, paying $50-100 less for that new PC, and no need for additional security software. Oh yeah...and no activation headaches.

    Call me an idealist but it has to happen at some point. Maybe price pressures and demand falling off will drive the linux and free software adoption we've all been waiting for.
    • by Shados ( 741919 )
      50-100$ less? thats almost the price of a freagin OEM disc. The last time I checked, I think OEM Windows on Dells and such is like, 10-20$, if that (its really an insignificant price, even if I don't have the exact number. Might even be less than that actualy).
      • by Rakishi ( 759894 )
        Is that with or without all the money they get for installing crap-ware with the computer (yeah, they get paid to put all that trial and pure shit ware on the computers)? That's also not something that could be done with Linux, at least as much yet due to lack of partners, so they'd lose money as a result.
    • Oh yeah...and no activation headaches.

      Get real.

      Systems will ship OEM activated. Or it will be a one time, one click, event for the vast majority of users---who do not pull motherboards as often as they change their underwear and socks.

      You know the one with Ubuntu or SUSE installed, paying $50-100 less for that new PC.

      OEM Linux is dead and buried at Walmart.com.

      MSDOS and Windows have been in the home for twenty-five years. No one is going to trade that investment in hardware, software, peripherals an

    • Call me an idealist but it has to happen at some point. Maybe price pressures and demand falling off will drive the linux and free software adoption we've all been waiting for.

      Make me wonder why PC memory is so expensive though. Anyone else notice they are high? PC, $500, 1GB aditioanl RAM, $180. Makes no sense.

  • Not surprised (Score:2, Insightful)

    PC makers will definitely feel the (lack of) heat this holiday season. Honestly, who would want to buy now? You get a computer installed with Windows XP, most likely with one of those "promise" certificates, that supposedly give you a free upgrade to Windows Vista. I remember when I got my own computer before moving into college. It was a disaster.
    This was Fall 2001. Windows XP wasn't quite out yet, but was more or less supposed to be. I got a Dell with Windows ME installed. In polite terms, it blew
    • I called the tech support dept to see if they could do that. Oh wait, thats sales' job. I called sales. They dole me it was tech support's job. I called tech support back and they told me it still wasn't their job. 2 hours of tech support later, you can guess how far I got.

      I've handled this as follows. You call tech support and they say that it's sales. Then you first say, OK, what's your name. Write it down. Then you ask him to patch you through AFTER he's conferred with his sales colleague to make sure h

    • I somewhat agree with ShimmyShimmy. I am wary of purchasing a new PC before such a major upgrade as Vista. That said, I did purchase a Win 3.1 machine just prior to Win 95, and that upgrade went ok for me. Compaq sent me an upgrade CD that took my machine to Win 95, and the only software issue I recalled hitting was that all my software still used short filenames. And that was not a very significant issue. In fact, I'd have likely hit that issue anyway.

      Where that Win95 upgrade caused pain later were all tho
    • I had ME installed, thought I would upgrade to XP..
      apt-get dist-upgrade
      dependancy nightmare!
  • by daeg ( 828071 ) on Sunday November 05, 2006 @02:58AM (#16722945)
    Even tough technology is still improving, just how often are computer manufacturers expecting consumers to purchase a brand new PC? It sounds to me that the slowing growth is more in part due to market saturation than anything else. Computer sales have enjoyed double digit growth through more difficult times than these (Windows ME fiasco, I.LOVE.YOU viruses, massive job loss in the bubble burst, terror attacks and wars, various US and foreign stock upsets, etc).

    I am thinking the sources behind this article have stock in Dell and other afflicted manufaturers. Dell will probably see a short-term loss of laptop sales due to their bad press from the exploding batteries. What better way to hedge your losses than say the entire laptop market is slowing in growth, rather than Dell simply losing sales to a competitor? It'll take months for the actual sales numbers to come in, and by then everyone will have forgotten about these stories.

    Be wary of any such article around crucial marketing periods like the winter holidays (just as you should be cautious of TV execs hyping up their shows during sweeps periods). Many brokers and firms can make-or-break a large profits during the next two months, all hinging on how well they predicted holiday sales figures from earlier in the year, and not everyone is a neutral party.
    • Even tough technology is still improving, just how often are computer manufacturers expecting consumers to purchase a brand new PC? It sounds to me that the slowing growth is more in part due to market saturation than anything else. Computer sales have enjoyed double digit growth through more difficult times than these (Windows ME fiasco, I.LOVE.YOU viruses, massive job loss in the bubble burst, terror attacks and wars, various US and foreign stock upsets, etc).

      The bigger issue is that PC speed increases
  • I can just hear the advertisements: "Bose Noise-canceling headphones: For when you don't want to hear your roommate's laptop exploding!" I think it has potential.
  • by Channard ( 693317 ) on Sunday November 05, 2006 @04:52AM (#16723331) Journal
    Because as an employee of a major computer chain, who's not on commission, and given that I don't have any plans to stay the industry all that much longer, it's great news. The less busy Boxing Day and Christmas is the better.
    • Unless they hear this news as well and lay you off today. Figuring well there wont be much work and this guy isn't willing to stick around. Might as well lay him off now. What people tend to forget especially when they are contemplating a career change is that the job that you are currently doing for a living is what pays the bills or at least makes you life outside of work just a little bit easier. Wishing for the company you are currently working at to fail is hazardous because first if you Boss see you
  • A dozen or so big corporations can not come up with a PC, sold now, that will be adequately functional/exciting with the operating system sold next year. Apple never (in recent history) had this problem - the same hardware runs at least 3 revisions of OS, and in fact keeps running successive versions faster. Neither does the next upgrade of Ubuntu break systems sold a couple of years ago. Governments/people should recognize the problem and take measures to restore real competition that meets market opportun
    • by Tim C ( 15259 )
      A dozen or so big corporations can not come up with a PC, sold now, that will be adequately functional/exciting with the operating system sold next year.

      Oh rubbish. Vista Beta 2 ran just fine on the PC I built myself from components in February.
      • by iamacat ( 583406 )
        You are not a big corporation. Dell was still selling Intel integrated graphics consumer PCs with 256MB RAM in February.
  • If Apple develops a consumer brainless one button fail safe migration utility to take every doc, bookmark, photo, song and whatnot from a PC to a Mac and have them run 100% right out of the box, then that is the killer app. Given the price differential between a new Apple and the projected incremental cost of a Vista capable there is no longer any disadvantage in going Mac.
  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Sunday November 05, 2006 @09:00AM (#16724299) Homepage

    PC technology is getting more mature so I'm not surprised to see sales flatten out. Home computers were already far more powerful than the average person ever needed almost ten years ago. Today they're over-powered to the point the average user can get by years longer before there's compelling reason to buy a new machine.

    I would consider myself a power user, built all my own PC's. Some of them are going on five years old and there's no compelling reason to upgrade them. I can work, play games, watch TV or movies...why do I need a new computer? Okay, they're not the hottest and fastest boxes on the market. So what? They're fast enough for me. The weak link in the PC interface is sitting in the chair. No matter how fast a PC is, absolute speed is going to be limited at some point by the user. You can only type so fast and take in so much information. Any mid-range machine today can stay ahead of the user in terms of information flow.

    Another trend impacting white box PC sales is the proliferation of specialty PC devices like game consoles, mp3 players and appliances like Blackberry. Those off-load what were traditional PC tasks. Where did PC makers think the growth was going to come from? If they think they have it bad now, just wait until the $100.00 laptops (now $175.00 I think) start flooding the market.

    • I don't consider 8% growth as "flat" or even close to "flattening". No market can grow double digits forever. Eight percent growth isn't enough to start going chicken little on us.
  • The reason PC sales are slowing is because the economy in general is slowing. There are many forecasts for a recession in 2007. Unnecessary technology would be one of the first things to go in a slowing economy.
    • However, I expect sales of portable music players to be strong for quite some time, especially with the new Apple iPod Shuffle (2G) and the plethora of 1 GB/2 GB portable music players at US$100 or less.
  • A lot of posters have said that people aren't buying new PCs because what they have is fast enough. Those posters are right. But there still do exist people who, for whatever reason, would like a new computer. Laptops, for instance, don't last forever.

    Those people, if they are wise, are waiting for the dust to settle after the mulicore wars.

    Processor technology had been stagnating, but now competition is heating up again between Intel and AMD. If I buy this year, something significantly better may c

    • Actually, right now Intel is leading with their excellent Core 2 Duo CPU's. Extremely fast, very efficient in instructions processed per CPU clock cycle, and decently cool running, that's why Apple chose the Core 2 Duo for most of their Macintosh line.

      And customers who do a lot of multimedia editing now enjoy the benefits of dual-core CPU technology, too. Dual cores make it possible to edit still images from digital still cameras, video from MiniDV/MicroDV camcorders, and audio far faster than ever before.
  • PC component makers have become lazy. Four years ago I built myself a 2.8GHz P4 machine with 512MB RAM, and that would still be considered "high end" today.

    Where are the 10GHz CPUs ? Where are even the 5GHz CPUs ? Where are the 8 or 16GB RAM machines ? Have the component-makers stopped improving ?

    No wonder people are not buying, it seems like PC technology stopped improving 4 years ago.
    • by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
      To build a machine with 16 GB of RAM requires a high-end server motherboard (e.g. a Xeon or Opteron one), and that can get very expensive very quickly. Besides, nobody needs 16 GB of RAM now and probably won't for a long time; it's only useful for server and research tasks that require huge amounts of data in memory at a time.
  • For about 3 years, I've been testing the Linux waters. I keep having to revert back to Windows because I know the OS well, and I've been changing life situations frequently (different field of study, different country, etc.). I have a laptop running XP and Ubuntu (after removing Gentoo from it -- compiling everything from source on a laptop is not a grand idea). I plan to remove my XP partition after backing up all my Opera settings and mail and other important files.

    However, my laptop is a sub-$1000 Averat
  • I actually went looking for a new system a few weeks ago; my current desktop machine dates back to 2001 and is in dire need of replacement. The result? The only machines I found on the shelves were SLOW. Office Depot, Sam's, the best I could find was a dual core clocked a bit above 2 MHz, with 2 gig of PC4200 RAM that was shared with the video system. CompUSA and Best Buy had some machines with separate video adapters but with the same RAM and CPUs that weren't much better. I'm either going to have to
    • I actually went looking for a new system a few weeks ago; my current desktop machine dates back to 2001 and is in dire need of replacement. The result? The only machines I found on the shelves were SLOW. Office Depot, Sam's, the best I could find was a dual core clocked a bit above 2 MHz,
      Wow. That is slow. Tell ya what- I have an old 486 here that I'm willing to let go for a song, it runs about 33MHz...
      • Considering that Intel is selling CPUs up to and over 3 GHz, meaning systems 50% faster than the ones I saw (not counting video improvements which should be even greater), yes, damnit, they're slow!!
  • by zoftie ( 195518 )
    Here where Steve Jobs can jump in, and say Ta Da!
    Seriously, if apple doesn't snag this moment, for the sake of software relicencing...
    2c.

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