Tougher times ahead

  Forum Editor 14:44 05 Jan 08
Locked

for the computer industry?

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I can remember a similar situation about six years ago. Then we were discussing the fact that UK computer makers (there were more of them then) and retailers had just experienced very poor Christmas sales figures. Since then, quite a few once-familiar names have disappeared.

The consumer electronics industries must innovate or die, and research doesn't come cheap. in today's world of fierce online price cutting I wonder how long some companies will manage to hold on if there's a major downturn in consumer spending.

  Kemistri 14:53 05 Jan 08

It will not be immune, that's for sure.

Just as it was a few years ago, I think it will be the box shifters that will be hit the hardest. We could be left with a marketplace that is even more dominated by the major multinational brands than it is now. They are usually best placed to develop the innovation, not to mention ride out difficult periods in some markets and provide that extra style and image that draws buyers. Where once, we all looked to the box shifters for the best value for money, that seems to be no longer true.

  anskyber 15:06 05 Jan 08

It may depend a little on how technology is seen as part of our mainstream lives rather than just gadgets to plat with.

I have little interest in what is inside the box, other than where it helps me to understand how the box can help me. My interest in computers arose not from trying to understand DOS or even how to put one together from bits. I came to computers because I saw what they could do for me.

In the future I think it will be the "relevant" technology which will do the job for many, the internet is perhaps a glowing example of such relevance.

Hardware development may need the cash to carry out research but in other areas there are many household names which started from just a good idea. An example, well my daughter bought me the book on The Google Story and a very interesting read it is too.

  Forum Editor 15:13 05 Jan 08

on the subject of the box-shifters. There was a time when you could build your own computer and reckon on making quite a saving over an equivalent machine from one of the online retailers, but that's no longer the case at all.

I recently added a Compaq machine to my home network for less than I could make one, and i didn't have to faff around with ordering components - I just went to PC World and walked out ten minutes later with a computer. When my office network machines need replacing I'll do the same thing. The Dixons Store Group issued a profit warning last week, citing lower-than-expected sales of Vista machines as one reason, but I suspect fierce competition from online sellers was also in there as a major cause.

It's very much a buyer's market out there, and as you say, it will be the big manufacturers who are better placed to weather the coming storm, if it comes. Even so, companies like Dell aren't relying on direct sales any more - they've negotiated deals with Tesco and DSG to put Dell machines in the high streets and retail parks.

  anskyber 20:01 07 Jan 08

Funny really. My wife has a laptop and surfs/emails. She is not in the remotest bit interested in tech stuff.

She saw Bill Gates on the news demonstrating the coffee table PC/entertainment product and said without delay, yes all homes will have one of those. What a great idea she enthused.

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