Every once in a while I do a survey of the PC landscape to see what’s selling and what’s changed. In the heyday of the personal computer tech advances were routinely amazing. Today, computers are lifeless commodities, differentiated more by colors on laptop lids than by anything inside. And that’s fine: there was really only one performance requirement for computers, and that was that they be able to do what we want them to do without having to wait for anything to spool up or refresh or crunch. Now we’re there.
As with all else these days, this commoditization has put tremendous price pressure on manufacturers. While Apple still commands a premium because of its snob appeal, everything else is being squeezed to the nth degree. (I configured a couple of PC’s last night, and on one I had the option of upgrading my hard drive by 500GB for $39.) Margins are shrinking to nano levels, meaning corporate profits must be driven elsewhere. Which brings me to Dell. [ Read more ]