“The computer industry, or the Windows portion of it, seems to have come down with a case of the Mondays. Across much of the business, profits are flat or dropping and stock valuations are crumbling, and the rest of this year seems only to promise more of the same,” Rob Pegoraro writes for The Washington Post.
“Even if [Microsoft’s Windows] Vista were to land on store shelves two months from now, and in perfect quality, the PC industry would still have serious issues to address. They all revolve around the basic theme of any business built on mass-produced electronic devices: the inevitable shift of a product from luxury to commodity,” Pegoraro writes.
“Computer manufacturers all know how to sell a luxury item, whether it’s a $2,000 Sony Vaio laptop or a $3,000 Dell XPS gaming rig: Throw in every possible feature, and spend some extra time designing a shiny case that sticks out in a crowd,” Pegoraro writes.
“Most of these companies also know how to sell a $300 bargain-basement desktop: Build the thing out of the cheapest available parts and make sure it’s easy for customers to find in the store,” Pegoraro writes. “But what about the computers in between — the models that will allow a computer manufacturer to build a thriving business, instead of selling only to pricey niches or grinding out a living at the low end of the market?”
Pegoraro writes, “Many of these middle-of-the-road models combine the least appealing parts of these approaches: one or two high-end components mixed in with average hardware, all packaged with a total absence of style. There’s little that is interesting about these machines unless, perhaps, you’re a corporate information technology department.”
Pegoraro writes, “Put it this way: If it weren’t for the occasional battery bursting into flames, what would make a Dell laptop uniquely Dell?”
“It’s not that customers don’t have clear needs. Most have a pretty good idea of what they’d like out of their next computer — but manufacturers typically are either unwilling or unable to deliver those things,” Pegoraro writes. “They keep bundling the same operating system, so they can do little to fix two of the problems people complain about most often, security and maintenance.”
Pegoraro writes, “There is one area, however, that computer vendors control completely, and that could set them apart from competitors: tech support. In most other businesses, interacting with the customer after the purchase is not only considered a normal part of the job, it’s one of the primary ways to build repeat business. And it can be done in the PC business, too: Just ask Apple, which has people lining up to talk to the tech-support “geniuses” at its retail stores.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Apple, of course, is the only personal computer company that also offers a totally unique experience: one that actually works for the user while still allowing users to slum it with the odd Windows application if need be. Hopefully, more and more people will figure it out before they again waste their money on a Windows PC.
Related MacDailyNews articles:
AP: Time to think different, Apple Mac beats Dell on price, software compatibility, and more – August 23, 2006
Survey shows big jump in consumer interest in buying Apple Mac; Dell takes steep slide – July 06, 2006
Dude, you got a Dell? What are you, stupid? Only Apple Macs run both Mac OS X and Windows! – April 05, 2006