So we’ve heard that PC sales are down, as are the sales of Windows 8 devices and even Intel is now reporting a 4th quarter loss. So what’s going on exactly? There are several different theories about what could be happening.

1) Some say that the PC is dying thanks to tablets and smartphones. People just don’t need them anymore.

2) Windows 8 is bombing, according to some folks. These negative individuals state that Windows 8 is responsible for the decline, plain and simple.

3) Another sentiment I agree with personally and have stated before is simply that people aren’t upgrading like they used to. They still want/use PCs, but they are getting by on Windows XP/Vista/7 machines with older yet reasonably capable processors like Intel Core 2 Duo and Quads.

If the last reason is what is happening, why? A few reasons. One of the reasons could be that people are buying tablets and smartphones and using them as their primary gateway to Internet content. This relegates the PC to a secondary position, and so people are less interested in upgrading a device they use only on an ocassional/secondary basis.

Another reason could be cost. We live in a time where the economy isn’t exactly strong throughout the globe. For many people, that smartphone or even tablet was a better deal because they have more mobility and in the case of many phones users, they got it for $50-$150 thanks to contract subsidization.

What reason do you think we are in a PC slump? Maybe a combination of all three factors mentioned above or some X-factor I didn’t mention? What do you think the PC industry can do to revive the situation?

I have a wild theory on something that could possibly help. Before you keep reading, I’ll warn you not to take this TOO seriously. It probably wouldn’t work, it would probably prove a disaster. But it is food for though.

Internet Carrier Subsidizing

Right now, you get a phone cheaper if you agree to use just one service, and only that service for at least a bare minimum of time. If you cancel, you get stuck with some pretty massive fees. Could the big carriers like Time Warner do something similar in the United States?

Imagine if they offered Windows 8 touch all-in-ones for around $200-300 dollars with a 2-year contract. Or even a low-to-midrange laptop for around $50 with a two-year commitment.

Okay, I admit the idea probably wouldn’t work and even if it did would just lock us all down even more. That said, Microsoft has started doing this with the Xbox 360, offering it for cheaper with the willingness to sign an Xbox Live contract. The success for that model for Microsoft has so far been limited, though.

So what are some of the problems standing in the way of such a subsidized PC offering? First, it would be hard to convince Internet Providers to buy PCs in bulk and commit to such a model. Second, a two-year contract for ISP service might be a hard sell for most consumers. Now, there are some consumers that would jump at this though. I’m talking about those that have good enough credit to get net service but bad enough credit that they can’t get financing on a new PC. They can’t afford $600-$1000+ for a PC– this might offer an alternative.

What do you think, is there any world in which this crazy idea would work or do you think it has too many faults to actually be executed successfully? Even if it was in place, would it really help PC sales in the long-run or not?

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  • Misterbear Fapp

    Where are the touch screen monitors? Why does my 5 year old 24″ monitor have better resolution than almost every monitor sold today? Why is most software I’m using today only a pitiful improvement over what I was using 4 years ago? Some of that software I’m STILL using from 4 years ago. I’ve dual booted my laptop so I can use software from 1995 that blows away the feature whore, drive sucking bloatware offered today.

    Money is burning a hole in my pocket, but I can’t find the hardware to build a new system that will radically improve over what I built 4 years ago. I wish someone WOULD make that hardware. I’m tired of driving around a mouse. I’m way over the Bluetooth dongles and wi-fi cards. Remember seeing Windows Surface (the original) when it first came out? Ahhhhhh, technolust. Windows 8 is the economy version of that software. Does not a single whiny hardware or software maker have even the tiniest vision to realize that Windows Surface dream for every computer user?

    Microsoft might have the right idea making their own hardware even though their past history (Zune. I love my Zune 120, but so much lost potential.) doesn’t necessarily bode well for their computer hardware future. The next Xbox will sell millions. I could build almost the same thing with off the self parts and Windows 8 – almost.

    Windows 8 is a major innovation. Must software and hardware manufacturers be dragged kicking and screaming to the same kind of innovation and potential profits? Windows 8 wasn’t just a rabbit plucked from a hat. Vendors and users had a over year of previews and betas to see what it’s all about, and realize some creative new ideas. Somebody should have told them having no or minimal choices sometimes means people will choose “no.”

    Maybe hardware makers could get into the rotary dial phone business.

  • voleheart

    i just want a free laptop! how terrible is that!! but i want like a surface pro or ativ smart pc gratis #inmydreams

  • Win8 for $40 did it

    I used to buy a new PC every three years or so with the release of a big bang Windows release as OS updates are too painful and costly, so might as well start fresh on a new system. Then Windows 7 was the first Microsoft OS to run better on existing hardware, as millions of beta testers could attest to, and when it came out, instead of dropping $100 on an upgrade, I just applied that money to a new machine. With Windows 8, my old hardware is just flying, but this time it was coupled with an irresistible upgrade price of $40, so no new PC for me (for now). I see that the price will rise in February to $100 for Windows 8 upgrade, and $200 for the Pro. If there was no low price upgrade I might have bought a new PC during the holidays. As it turns out, I can wait a while longer with a fast OS on older hardware. Tablets are nice on the go, but nothing beats the screen real estate, multitasking, productivity and an insane number of open tabs like a real PC. I suspect my next PC will be a touchscreen Ultrabook (part of the new Ultrabook specification pushed by Intel).

  • Rex

    I dont think they ever will. The world changed.
    Initially when desktops came out they were too expensive, when the price dropped, there was a consistent growth in the industry as each household bought one. Then when the price of laptops dropped, there was growth as it because the norm to have multiple machines per household. And as Win8 states, originally laptop life was very short and it was the norm to replace them every three years. But quality has improved and power requirements leveled off. On top of this, with more mobile devices like tablets and smartphones that can do most of the day to day needs, the term “growth” for the PC industry needs to be removed. We have hit the peak. The only new computers are basicallly replacements. Plus we already have a glut of now unnecessary laptops.

  • Sam

    I have been waiting to buy a new computer win8 touch screen 17″ (laptop) but there just not a lot of product of product out there yet. The stores tell me there will be more by spring. Touch and speech are the way to go. It just takes people a time to change habits.

  • Jack Shofner

    What could be done to reinvigorate things? For one, both Metro and Windows should be detached and used as separate operating systems. Second, Micro$oft should stop being Apple.