If you have been around for a while you might remember the days of the free and $400 e-machine systems. These were extremely low performance systems that were often bundled with MSN, AOL, or other internet provider contracts. It enabled e-Machines and the many dial-up ISPs [Internet Service Providers] to make a killing.
But what it did in the end was flood the market with computers that could barely live up to user demands and often failed within months of purchase. I cannot tell you how many times I had friends ask me to look at their brand new e-Machine to see why it would not play this game or that program. The e-machines back then shipped with a shoddy 120-180 Watt Power supply that would often die in or around six months. There was no real upgrade path for the old e-machines as they were designed to be disposable systems; once they died you went out and bought another.
Today, we are seeing the reoccurence of a familiar pattern. This time the economy is driving people to cut corners and pushing new system sales straight into the under powered netbook and nettop systems. Now I am not saying that Netbooks are bad or that they will die quickly; what I am saying is that again we see people gabbing up systems that in most cases will not do everything that they want or need.
In an article I wrote yesterday I talked about the death of the netbook. That is the death of the small portable limited use system. The netbook as designed was intended to fill a gap in the current system food chain. It was never meant to be a full scale system. Yes, there is a place for it in the market, in fact, in many markets - such as many homes where the need is small such as e-mail and office productivity only. But where things begin to fall apart is when people rush out to buy that new $400 “laptop” only to get it home and find it has a very small hard drive, limited RAM, no CD-ROM and can’t run everything they want to throw at it.
I saw this happen first hand over the weekend at a big package store that I will not name. A person was yelling at the returns counter about the piece of garbage [she used a different word] laptop she had just bought the night before.
This was a “manager’s special” and came with a bundled printer. Well the deal went very sour after she got the book home and found that it had no CD/DVD-ROM to install the printer drivers, or the other software she had been talked into getting. It was pretty obvious that she did not know what she was buying and was only going on what she was told by the sales rep and the final price tag.
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