7 ways OEMs could inject new life into the stagnant PC market

7 ways OEMs could inject new life into the stagnant PC market

Summary: The PC industry has run out of steam, and the OEMs are doing little to help kick start sales other than tinker with form factors.

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TOPICS: Mobility
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The PC industry is dying. If you don't believe me, take a look at how some of the big names in the industry – companies such as Intel, AMD, Nvdia, and so on – are frantically trying to carve out new markets.

But the PC market is far from dead. In fact, I'd argue that the biggest problem facing the PC industry is stagnation. PC makers have, for too many years, been gliding along and counting on more gigahertz and gigabytes – and new versions of Windows – to sell hardware. Those days are over, and OEMs need to start thinking outside the box.

Here are some things that OEMs can do and promote to help us fall in love with the PC once again.

1 – Focus on power (again)

I remember a time when people would buy a new PC because it was a few megahertz faster than their old one. Good times.

But then chip makers shifted away from concentrating on clock cycles and started adding more cores, more threads, and more efficient architectures. While people could get their heads around MHz and GHz, throwing threads and cores into the mix made it too complex, and as a result PC OEMs started to put less emphasis on CPU power.

But power is where the PC dominates, and it is the single clearest advantage that they have over post-PC devices such as smartphones and tablets. Leverage this. For example, how about pushing a PC powered by AMD's 5GHz processor?

2 – Productivity

People can do a lot on their smartphones and tablets, but there little doubt that they can get more done in less time by putting down the mobile device and sitting in front of a PC.

It might seem bland, but the humble keyboard and mouse offer the best way for people to interact with the digital world.

We've seen plenty of ads for smartphones and tablets that show people what they can do with their post-PC devices, and this seems to work. PC ads, in comparison, seem nebulous and do little to promote the benefits of owning a modern PC.

Start showing what the PC can do, and how it can make people's lives easier.

3 – Stop tinkering with form factors

One way that OEMs have tried to reinvigorate the PC market is by tinkering with form factors. Hybrids and convertibles are examples of such experimentation.

Problem is, there's no proven market – or for that matter, demand – for these reimagined PCs. They exist because OEMs needed a way to make existing hardware better suited to Windows 8's touch interface.

Bottom line is that OEMs need to stop messing with form factors and start focusing on what people want from a modern PC. If they don't know what this is, then it's time to research the market rather than trying to create Frankenstein hybrids of PCs and post-PC devices.

4 – The expandable PC

When you buy a PC, you are buying a platform that you can build on. You can add more storage, better peripherals, more displays, printers, scanners, and much more.

While you can do a lot of this with a smartphone or tablet, it's never the same. A PC is a command center you sit in front of to work on, not a device you carry and use in the palm of your hand. The static nature of a PC – semi-static if it is a notebook – offers big advantages, so promote them!

5 – The PC as the ideal companion device

Once upon a time we looked at smartphones and tablets were seen as companion devices for PCs. Now that post-PC devices are all the rage, why not turn this on its head and highlight the advantages of having a PC as a companion for a smartphone or tablet.

There are plenty of ways that smartphone and tablet owners can leverage a full PC, and this means that with the right marketing — and proper setup of the PC – these users can be leveraged.

6 – Longevity

Smartphone and tablet makers expect that you will upgrade every year or so. In comparison, a PC – even a cheap PC – can have a much longer lifespan. For people looking to save money, PCs are, in the long run, a better choice.

7 – Bundles

How about combining a PC with a tablet into a single offer? As long as the price was right I can see this appealing to people who don't want to put too much effort into wading through specs to choose the right hardware.

And if the PC was set up ready for the tablet, and had custom features – for example, perhaps it was set up to use the tablet as a second screen, or the tablet was set up to remotely control the PC – then this could appeal to those who like simplicity.

Topic: Mobility

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80 comments
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  • They could always sell naked computers

    Or if MS gets upset, they could sell them with FreeDOS CDs instead.
    John L. Ries
    • John L. Ries...If they were smart they offer a dual boot systems to start

      with. Linux Mint 15 & Windows 8....only problem as I see it is that once they tried Linux Mint 15 they wouldn't even bother booting into Windows 8 any more. Just think Windows users you wouldn't have to purchase any more Anti Virus software as you'd be living in the secure world of Linux.

      End Of Story.....Period
      Over and Out
      • I'd buy a Linux preload

        And if I didn't like the distro, it would be easy enough to replace it with one I liked.
        John L. Ries
      • If you did that, people would just stop buying PC's

        It would raise the price for something nobody would ever boot into (Linux)

        No argument, no excuses, just the End Of Story.....Period
        William Farrel
        • This would be an option

          If you still wanted your Windows preload, you could buy one.
          John L. Ries
          • Funny story...

            That's actually exactly what happens now.
            mrefuman
          • Availability of anything but a Windows preload...

            ...from any mainstream OEM is very limited. Maybe that shouldn't be the case.
            John L. Ries
          • availablity

            It is not very available because they make too few sales. Just the way it is.
            hayneiii@...
          • That's the thing, John L. Ries, what Linux_Forever suggests

            comes at a price. That price being to create and support a second distro on the computer, which Linux may be free, but who pays for the addes cost of having to deal with customers that are having issues with it? The OEM.

            So not only are they going to have to charge more money for the device because of the second OS support, now they have to do all the front end work driver wise on hardware development not just for one, but for two OS's on one system each time their is a minor change.

            It would raise the price of the entire package for everyone, even though most are only looking to use one or the other.

            Better to have two separate PC's for whatever crowd
            William Farrel
          • In other words...

            ...Linux users should simply stop buying from MS' OEM partners, and either build their own or buy from hardware manufacturers who specialize in Linux.

            Good to know!
            John L. Ries
          • How does that equate to duel boot PC's from the factory?

            "Linux users should simply stop buying from MS' OEM partners, and either build their own or buy from hardware manufacturers who specialize in Linux."

            I'm offering a reality here. Why not just buy one of their Linux based systems?

            Think of it in terms of giving away a table saw to everyone getting a power washer - how long before the person who never used the saw decides to give it a whirl and ends up loosing a few fingers. What did the OEM get out of it, besides the lawsuit?

            Same here - if someone is looking for a Windows based PC, why throw in the added headache on something that really didn't contribute to the sale?
            William Farrel
          • Why not buy a Linux preload from a mainstream OEM?

            I guess that would depend if they have what I want. If not, then forgive me for going elsewhere rather than to buy a Windows preload. Besides, I keep hearing from pro-MS Talkbackers that Linux users are parasites on the Windows PC industry (an indication that we're not wanted anyway).

            And I certainly wouldn't want to throw off MS' sales numbers.
            John L. Ries
          • "duel boot"

            Is that where two vendors challenge each other to a kicking contest?
            rahbm
        • Raise the price?

          How would it raise the price to add something that's free?
          Michael Alan Goff
          • Because adding things isn't free?

            Here is a quick quiz:

            I have 200 computers and two hundred copies of . I also have 5 different programs. Let's say they are a customer support app, a driver update app, a video management app, a music management app and a browser toolbar. None of my apps run on the OS that I have purchased / downloaded for these computers.

            1. How long will it take you to port all 5 apps to the correct OS?
            2. How long will it take you to build me an image that includes the OS and another free OS of your choice?
            3. Will you do it for free?
            4 What if I said 1,000,000 computers instead of 200?
            mrefuman
          • hmmm

            This sentence should have said "I have 200 computers and two hundred copies of (Insert Your favorite OS here) .
            mrefuman
          • What you do is...

            ...if it's a naked machine, then only the hardware is supported (if you want software support, you pay extra). If it's a Linux preload, then only the distro that came with it is supported; you're free to change the distro if you want (your box), but the manufacturer isn't obliged to help you in that case.

            And since the major Linux distros come with a huge selection of apps, installation support mostly consists of teaching people how to use Yumex or Synaptic.
            John L. Ries
          • The OEMs have a vast array of apps that they distribute with these machines

            They have music stores, updaters, support software, networking and backup software... Just about everything under the sun. You and I probably can agree that most of it is crap, but it makes them money and it costs them money to port to linux.
            mrefuman
          • There is also support staff to think of...

            Literally millions of people that are needed to support these computers would have to be retrained / replaced. The open source community is cool and all, But I don't think most avg. joe computer users would even know where to begin looking for help if there wasn't a dell support app on their desktop or a 1-800 number they could call.
            mrefuman
          • Support costs.

            When the customer calls in and says "I'm having a driver issue with my Ubuntu", will Dell say "Too bad - no support for Linux because it's free"?

            Support comes with a cost, and if Dell or HP sell a computer with both, they'll need to support both, which will raise the overall cost, regardless of wether they use both or not

            Plus, won't people be using the same peripherals on both OS's? So each call would be twice the work to get a problematic driver to work on 2 OS's, not just one?
            William Farrel