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back to article Acer predicts end of cheap PC era

PC buyers, especially small businesses, should get used to paying more for their kit, after Acer predicted that ASPs would rise this year, for practically the first time in PC industry history. Walter Deppeler, senior corp vice president of the Taiwanese PC giant, said that the company saw a revival in the PC business in the …

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Unhappy

Bit late

Has anybody seen the price of just memory right now? Its 3 times the price it was a year ago and that's just one component :(

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Unhappy

My RAM is expensive

I remember running up costs for RAM in November. I was seeing $30 2Gb DDR2 RAM sticks, and thought "nice, I'm gonna get me that lean mean 8Gb machine for me! Whoops... the RAM had jumped to $70. So I'm stuck with a 4Gb box, 'coz its expensive.

It seems like its time to buy a crapload of RAM sticks and sell 'em for more... prices are definitely going up.

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Black Helicopters

hmmmmm

I wonder if RAM is going up as manufacturers sense a demand to upgrade older machines in order to prolong their useful lifetime ...

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Which dollar is that, then?

Surely the only dollar whose value is important in determining PC prices, these days, is the New Taiwan Dollar?

Acer can say what they like, as far as I see it. If you buy an Acer laptop, you're just buying a Quanta Computer laptop, with an Acer badge stuck on it, anyway - and since that's true of a third of all the laptops in the global market (including all the Apple ones), and a great many desktops, it's surely Quanta, that will determine how much component prices influence the market? This story is about what the monkey has to say - but I see Barry Lam, winding the handle on the organ: why not ask him what's going to happen?

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Boffin

Same factory != same kit

Go find me a laptop pc with a modern bios (efi prom - press C to boot from cd), proper battery management, powered FW port (so I can have my studio wherever I am), sudden motion sensor (for office light-saber fights), and eye-appealing casing.

And don't get me started on software you find in those Newton-sent beauties ...

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"Have to replace aging kit"? Why?

Stuff breaks - that's inevitable. But the assumption that a business needs to replace their PCs every other year is pretty seriously out of touch with reality. The truth is that for your average business user whose main apps are Word, Outlook and IE (other word-pro, email and browser software is available, as the BBC are wont to say), a five-year-old PC will still be perfectly adequate - in fact, I'd bet money that the majority of users would be unable to tell the difference between a five-year-old PC and a current PC if they were loaded with the same software and used for these kind of everyday office jobs. Hell, a ten-year-old machine would be good enough too - you might notice a slight slow-down, but I doubt it'd be anything that'd get in the way of writing emails, doing accounts or surfing the web.

A lot of places are wising up to this, particularly in larger companies where cost of IT is significant. Automatic PC refreshes are very much not the norm these days - if you want a new PC then you'd better have a good business case for it. And since we're still only taking baby steps out of a very serious recession, you can be damn sure that no-one's going to be throwing money around like it was 1999. So I hope Acer aren't pinning too much on this, because I think they're likely to be severely disappointed.

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True

What we need is good servers. For too long to many IT departments have replaced "slow" PCs, without realising that what people need for most finance etc. is a fast server to cope with the massive data load, but a ten year old PC wont deal with accounts, or the sort of spreadsheets accountants use.

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Gates Horns

@Graham Bartlett

I think I first heard this argument about 15 years ago. Pentiums were being withdrawn due to worries over the maths bug and pundits commented the newer machines had little appreciable advantage over the 486DX2 boxes for "normal" office applications anyway, as shown when companies dusted off those older boxes and pressed them back into service.

So what happened? No, don't answer that, but if (big IF) desktop PCs continue to grow in performance, memory and storage capacity the way they have then at some point those oh-so-desirable Core i7 systems packing 8GB RAM and a TB disk will be on sale at £20 at your local computer fair / car boot sale in the same manner Pentium 2/3s currently are.

Of course at some point we'll hit a desktop usability crisis when the vastly-faster new hardware the software developers were banking on doesn't appear and the latest greatest edition of your software thing runs like an utter utter dog. Ring any bells?

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Silver badge

Time to trim the fat

We only need bigger PCs because of software bloat. Once operating systems (all of 'em) and applications writers - particularly the writers of application suites start to remove the crap from their products, start making efficient software designs and get away from tick-box feature creep the better.

As it is, one of the biggest drags on PC performance is the security software. It's amazing how fast that old P4 can be when you free it from the ball-and-chains of virus scanners, email guards, anti-malware and website safeguards ('corse you might just catch something nasty - oh well, the price of speed).

[ I did have a whole piece here about the inefficiencies of Linux, too. But just thinking about where to start drained my will to live by too much. ]

So what we need is a kind of renaissance in PC land. Small, well designed O/S;s without all their legacy code. Tight applications without 6 million extra functions that no-one except trojan writers ever use. A security regime that is designed into (rather than bolted on afterwards) the software and has a low operational impact and APIs for hardware support that are adhered to and don't change. If "they" can cram all this into a phone, why not a desktop, too?

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Thumb Up

Agree

But we could even keep legacy code just add it into an extra module that people can easily enable if needed, otherwise its left disabled by default..

Strip the browser from the GUI in certain OS's and separate the API's which would cut down on alot of bulk (and a pile of security issues which would mean less need for the insane bulky security scanners)

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Anonymous Coward

Please yourself...

If prices rise, then sales will go down .... thimple!!

Many businesses are hard enough pressed, so purchases will be put off another year. Whatever we're told, there's still a recession on for most of us.

Home users buy lower-end kit anyway, and there's a make or break price in home computers - ask any supermarket. There are nerds who buy everything new, of course, but they aren't enough to sustain an industry.

So ... prices may well rise for a while, but anyone want to open a book on when - in desperation - the knockdown sales start?

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Happy

I second that...

In the long term, market prices aren't set by those selling a service or product, they're set by what customers are actually willing to pay. Price too high and nobody will buy - they'll hold out if they can until prices fall to a level deemed palatable.

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Linux

Somwhere in the darkness..

Somwhere in the darkeness the nightmare began to chatter..

Ubuntu, Ubuntu..over and over just a whisper on the wind, growing steadily louder, incesant, clawing at the very nerves of the IT dept. A dark spectre darting across the internet, its souless black eyes and flash of yellow beak striking fear into all who would be foolish enough to ignore it.

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Grenade

No the previous commenters...

were talking about an efficient non bloated OS that runs crazy well on 15 year old kit. Ubuntu struggled on my 8 year old athlon laptop.

enough with it already.

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Gold badge

Prices up, or specs down?

Will prices go up, or specs go down? Personally, I would not spend 12% more on a PC -- I would get a PC with 12% lower specs than I would have otherwise. I only have one system that even has 1GB of RAM, Athlon XPs. I do have huge hard disks, but I buy them aftermarket. I don't touch Windows with a 10-foot pole so I have no speed problems with them. If/when I buy something new, I would just cut the chip spec a step or two, or cut a superfluos GB or two to keep my price down. Simple as that.

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Prices will fall...

When the world embraces LinArm and computers become comoditized "internet appliances".

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Paris Hilton

Acer? Come on.

Let's be honest, what serious business would buy Acer tat anyway?

Paris, 'cos she's cheap.

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Paris Hilton

So Acer are saying...

... people will ignore their kit in favour of higher-quality kit from reputable manufacturers?

(Paris because she was never cheap).

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Flame

The only dollars in the PC

Only Intel and Microsoft add dollars to the ASP.

Since they take most of the profits from selling PCs you'll need to avoid both of those as Europe slips back into its usual third world status.

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Most business users don't need much.

An email client, office apps (WP, Spreadsheet, Presentation) and a browser seem to answer most needs. Oddly enough, we used to run this kind of software on old 486s, back in the day...

Obviously important techie bods like myself are the exception to this rule. The latest, shiniest, bestest hardware and software available on the market is an absolute necessity if I'm going to do my ever-so-important job. but for normal office drones I don't imagine this'll mean much more than an extra six months between hardware refreshes...

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Happy

Efficient Software

At one place where I worked, all the software engineers were given the oldest, slowest machines. This encouraged efficiency in code and memory use, providing the customers with software that performed well on the old machines and superbly on the newest. THAT would be an incentive to upgrade the hardware!

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10-15% is small beer

The 25% devaluation sterling last year has already pushed up prices, at least for small companies. We bought some Dell kit in Aug 2007 and the same model but lower spec now costs ~40% more (429/unit now vs 304/unit then). We'd have to buy a different and more expensive model to acheive the same spec which would push the replacement price to well over 50% more. So what if there's another 10-15% increase.

However I expect it will be more complicated for Acer than the sales guys think. The impact for us has been to find out about cloud computing and virtualization. Both, we have discovered, have allowed us greater flexibility and to extract more value from existing kit.

Also, the components manufacturers have responded to the lower demand by reducing supply. When demand returns, so will the components which will undermine the Acer position.

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Linux

MS Tax

Acer are only saying this because they want to bundle Win7 with all their cheap PC/netbooks. The manufacturer's price for Win7 is (from what I've read) substantially more than XP, so it's the software that's driving up prices not hardware...

Don't buy Win7 and you'll still be able to get cheap PCs. Sadly, Acer seem to be a main culprit in not supplying linux netbooks anymore :(

Clearly MS has been leaning on them and the others! Are we back to the good 'ol days, again?

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ASP means???

I'm guessing ASP means Actual Selling Price?

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