"Back to School" purchases aren’t quite Christmas, but they drive a lot of business for PC manufacturers so Back to School bargain promotions are popping up everywhere. Some of the bargains I have noticed for customers in the USA:
Retailers (which often offer better deals than the manufacturers)
Market research company NPD released some of their statistics on PC sales at US brick and mortar stores that are causing a flurry:
You need look no further than numbers released today by NPD to understand Apple’s strategy. Its revenue share of the “premium” price market — that is, computers over $1,000 — is a staggering 91%. This means that 9 out of every 10 retail dollars that is spent on PCs in that price range, goes to Apple, as Betanews’ Joe Wilcox points out. That, for lack of a better word, is insane.
Analysts and journalists are often quick to point out Apple’s relatively low overall market share (less than 10%). But that completely misses the point of Apple’s Mac business. If Apple wanted to make a range of low-end computers, it absolutely could. And such machines would sell like crazy, boosting Apple’s market share. But there would have to be some trade-off in quality, and perhaps more importantly to Apple, to its high margins. And as it has proven time and time again, it has no desire to give up either.
I have no desire to own an Apple PC since I have too many applications and tools that require Windows, but I have always regarded them as the "high priced spread" or the "Mercedes" brand and respect them for it. The systems, peripherals, and software work nicely together without the "fit and finish" problems that plague Windows PCs because Apple tightly controls the ecosystem.
And that’s why Microsoft’s recent Laptop Hunter commercials really never made a lot of sense. Sure, from a marketing perspective, I understand the idea: It’s a down economy, lets play up the fact that our computers are cheaper. But in many of the spots, the shopper’s stated desired computer was simply not something that Apple even made. In the famous first commercial, Lauren wants a laptop with a 17-inch screen for under $1,000. Okay, Apple doesn’t make that product. So of course she’s not going to buy a Mac.
I was similarly puzzled – if you want a bargain PC, Microsoft is the only real choice so the ads were merely stating the obvious. If you want to go first class and unlike me have no need to run Windows applications, then head on over to the Apple Store and indulge yourself. If you are on a budget and want value, head on over to Amazon or TigerDirect or NewEgg or a hundred other places and do some serious shopping for a Windows PC.
Yes, you can still buy a new PC with Windows XP installed on it. Windows XP ceased to be available at retail on June 30, 2008 but there are a number of exceptions. The relevant exception for a consumer or a small business owner is that "OEMs can downgrade Vista Business or Vista Ultimate licenses to Windows XP Professional or Tablet PC versions for customers indefinitely," where OEMs are the large PC manufacturers.
However, there’s a difference between "can" and "will" or "will with no hassle" so Christopher Null at PC World tried to purchase a PC with XP from Dell, HP, Gateway, Toshiba, Acer, Fujitsu, Lenovo, and Asus and reports on the very mixed results. Hit the article for the full details on each, but the best bets for an machine with XP preinstalled are:
Consumer PC: Toshiba, Fujitsu, Lenovo
Business PC: HP, Fujitsu, Lenovo
If you are willing to pay extra or install XP from a CD, the choices are even more numerous. Also Asus has its line of Eee ultra low-cost PCs (ULPC) which come with XP under a different exemption in the rules.