Mossberg Tells PC Makers To Cut The Craplets

from the the-ad-supported-PC-is-back dept

Anyone who has bought a new PC in recent years knows all about the rigmarole associated with getting them going once they've been taken out of the box. In addition to all of the preferences, the user is faced with an onslaught of what are basically software ads in the form of trial services. Wall Street Journal tech columnist Walt Mossberg, who has certainly seen more than his fair share of computers over the years, was nevertheless struck by how ridiculous things have gotten, after experiencing the joys of setting up a new Sony Vaio laptop. In addition to two dozen pieces of teaser software for services from Napster and AOL, the computer came pre-loaded with four feature-length movies from Sony Pictures. Of course the movies, which were taking up valuable space on the hard drive, couldn't be viewed without first paying Sony. The problem, as Mossberg correctly identifies, is that computer manufacturers act as if the computer doesn't belong to the user, but is instead some platform for them to pitch services. It could be argued that all of these pitches help subsidize the cost of the computer, or at least help defray the growing Windows tax (the fact that as hardware prices continue to drop, the portion of a computer's price that goes to paying for Windows goes up). But it's not surprising, then, that consumers are increasingly interested in alternatives, like desktop Linux, as a way of avoiding the whole mess.

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  1. identicon
    squik, 6 Apr 2007 @ 1:59pm

    Sony VAIO

    The problem, as Mossberg correctly identifies, is that computer manufacturers act as if the computer doesn't belong to the user, but is instead some platform for them to pitch services.

    Hardware is plentiful and cheap. Manufacturers are selling at marginal costs and trying to figure out some way to make a profit.

    The internet has turned the computer into a platform for the delivery of services. Most of those services (e.g. Google, YouTube, etc.) come to you free, with the service provider making its profit from advertisements.

    It should be an obvious development that a computer would come pre-loaded with advertisements for goods and services as a way for the producer of the computer to make some profit. But even these advertisements will not ultimately make the computer profitable as they will tend to become price subsidies instead of profit. Such is the way of competition in commodity markets.

    The ads are annoying. You are forced to remove the crap. But, given the choice, most people will buy the crapped-up lower price computer. You'll have to live with it unless you pass a law against it or build your own computer. Either way, you'll wind up paying more for the computer, unless your cost formula prices the value of the time you spend building the computer very low (which could be the case if you enjoy that sort of thing).

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