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Businesses China Hardware

Hardware Is Dead — At Least Most Expensive Hardware Is 342

First time accepted submitter ze_jua writes "In this article, Jay Goldberg, a financial analyst who travels to Shenzhen several times a year, analyses the potential consequences of the very low cost of hardware he found there on the consumer electronic industry worldwide. He wrote this piece of text after he found a very nice $45 Android 4 tablet. Are we so close to given-away tablets?"
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Hardware Is Dead — At Least Most Expensive Hardware Is

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  • No. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 17, 2012 @05:45PM (#41367859)

    This is retarded. Just like 99.99% of all the "news" on this site.

    • Re:No. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Internetuser1248 ( 1787630 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:16PM (#41368299)
      Yeah, maybe if they just ditch the first 3 words of the headline. Or even changed the whole headline. TFA is actually kind of interesting. How about "hardware getting ever cheaper" or "Bargain tablets in Chinese market". Hardware is becoming really cheap, therefore it is dead... yeah, right.
      • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @08:41PM (#41369801) Journal

        TFA's warcry "Hardware Is Dead" is itself braindead.

        Just because the price-point of hardware falls does not mean the mechanics of dealings in hardware is dead.

        There are many more items in our daily lives carry price-point well below of $45.

        Are people dealing in porcelain cup dying of hunger?

        Are businesses dealing in cheap plastic toys closing up shop?

        No, of course not !

        As long as there is a demand, there will be a supply, and as long as there is a price-point difference between the supply side and the amount demand side is willing to pay, there is profit to be made.

        The author doesn't even know shit about doing business. He acts as if he's the re-incarnation of Chicken Little and keep yelling "The Sky Is Falling ! The Sky Is Falling !!"

    • Re:No. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:18PM (#41368329) Journal

      It's not retarded... well, not entirely.

      Hardware will always represent a non-zero cost. However, much of that cost can (eventually?) be absorbed or at least amortized by other budgets. Marketing stands out as a ferinstance (at least on a limited scale), since we already see VARs doing that with higher-priced items to IT managers and other decision-makers ("attend a sales pitch for 500Mbit fiber from Acme Telecom Business Services, and get a free iPad!" - Seriously, once we scored a free IBM ThinkPad for the department that way.)

      I bought the same $45 Android tablet for the missus' birthday off of AliExpress; it came with Android 4.0, and shipping cost $20 more. It has (almost) everything the original Kindle Fire had, but with better battery life, and minus the DRM or spamvertising.

      I wouldn't expect to get a free tablet for showing up at the local power company's booth at the county fair, but given the increasingly cheap prices? It's not too much of a stretch to see, in a couple of year, a fully functional (and decent!) tablet sitting in the toy section of the local stores, priced about the same as a Barbie Doll, model airplane, or suchlike.

      • They give away phones here in Canada when you sign up for plans.

        The plans are hilariously expensive, but you get the hardware for free.

        • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @07:02PM (#41368831) Homepage Journal

          The hardware is never 'free'. You pay the subsidy.

          The difference here is that whern they get this cheap, and Fry's sells them for $79, and there is no real quality problem (though I can replace this every 18 months and not feel bad except for recycling it - not), then they arre so commoditized that the 'serious' tablet makers are screwed.

          The way out is to virtually and literally give them away, and start making money on the service. So if Amazon is NOT getting these, they are failing, and if they are, they are SCREWING us even more.

          Someone will offer a subscription service for eBooks based on vanilla Android tablets. Someone will offer a music subscription also, based on ubiquitous tablets everywhere.


          ps - I propose that Android is the reason. When the OS AND the apps are all so cheap to deliver, the hardware follows. And we all really just want our books, music, magazines, blogs, candy web sites, and not so much a powerful machine to do it. Because now, evern impossibly cheap tablets are more than enough.

          I'll buy one, the wife wants to try one, and she's just dropped her iPhone, so cheap is very attractive to her. These tablets are cheaper than FIXING her iPhone.

      • I bought the same $45 Android tablet for the missus' birthday off of AliExpress; it came with Android 4.0, and shipping cost $20 more. It has (almost) everything the original Kindle Fire had, but with better battery life, and minus the DRM or spamvertising.

        But there's also a good chance it has spyware built right in. I'd think twice before using it for any sort of financial transactions, or for entering any account/password combinations you want to keep secret.

        • She uses it for minor stuff, and nothing financial - otherwise I'd just have her stick with the (very locked-down) laptop. If it ever became a question of using it for financial stuff, I suspect I could grab a stock ICS image and re-flash the puppy.

        • Re:No. (Score:5, Funny)

          by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @07:22PM (#41369073)

          But there's also a good chance it has spyware built right in.

          For all the people that have looked, the only backdoor found in Chinese gear was ones left there by Cisco, left in because of wholesale copying, not added by any Chinese company. I'd feel safer with a Chinese tablet than an NSA/FBI approved USA tablet.

      • Re:No. (Score:5, Informative)

        by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Monday September 17, 2012 @07:12PM (#41368929) Journal

        Exactly, I got MS Office 2K7 for attending a tech event, been handed more flash sticks than I care to count (even had some given to me by the forestry dept, still haven't figured out how flash sticks and forestry connect) and that's not even counting Moore's law making it increasingly cheap to just make the good chips instead of the junk. Hell I hand out flash sticks along with wireless keyboards and mice with my new builds, the things are so cheap that it isn't really costing me anything and the customers love the idea of getting "free" stuff.

        I could easily see $25 7 inch pads and $50 10 inchers, with a decent dual core and 4-8Gb of memory, it'll simply be cheaper to mass produce those chips in such volume that the price plummets while still letting them make a profit. I mean why do you think all the monitors now are 1600x900 or 1080p? Because they crank those out for TVs so they're cheap. We see the same thing with 1366x768 in netbooks, they crank the hell out of those 12 inch screens for mini-TV and tablets and any other place where a big screen won't fit so they are again dirt cheap.

  • Absolutely. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alan Shutko ( 5101 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @05:46PM (#41367877) Homepage

    Expensive hardware has been dead for a while. That's why Apple had such disappointing preorders of the new iPhone and has been lagging behind Samsung in tablet sell-through.

    Or, maybe not.

    • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @05:47PM (#41367889) Homepage Journal

      There will always be lemmings willing to pay for shiny bragging rights.

      • by alen ( 225700 )

        Apparently tens of millions of them
        Just like the ones who buy Honda and Toyota instead of cheaper Kia and other cheapo brands

        • Re:Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:52PM (#41368737)

          That's not quite the same. A car is a giant cost, $10-50k. That's a big difference from a $50-500 tablet computer. So it's absolutely rational to try to make a safe purchase decision, even if it costs more. Honda and Toyota have built up excellent reputations for reliability over several decades now; cheaper brands haven't. The American brands have built themselves terrible reputations for reliability, by contrast.

          The problem is, the real quality factors have been changing over time. The American brands have gotten a lot better. The Korean brands have improved to an amazing degree since the early 90s Hyundai Excel. And Honda and Toyota have been having problems (like the Prius pedal problem a few years ago), and have fallen behind in other places too. The Honda Civic, which has been on Consumer Reports' top choice list for decades, has actually fallen off of it now, mainly because there's so many other choices that have surpassed it in value.

          But it takes time for reputations to change. For cheaper items, people are much more willing to take a chance, since if a $50 tablet computer turns out to be a POS, they're only out $50 and they can buy another one. But if a $35000 car turns out to be a POS, then not only is that a huge financial loss (even if you turn around and re-sell it on the used market, you'll lose thousands), but there's a potential to lose time too, in missing work because your car broke down in the morning commute, having to deal with repairs and loaner or rental cars, etc. Reliable transportation has huge benefits aside from the purchase price.

      • it looks like lemmings <> china
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Penguinisto ( 415985 )

        One caveat: Bleeding-edge isn't always about bragging rights.

        While Apple makes some monster profit percentages, things like Retina Displays, specialized metal (as in, not-plastic) cases that hold up to abuse a little better... these things do tend to cost more, both in the newness of technology (because not everyone has such things tooled-up and ready to rock on relatively large scales), and in having enough R&D put in to make sure you don't end up with a bleeding-edge-but-crap product (which Apple, whi

    • Re:Absolutely. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Rob Kaper ( 5960 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @05:53PM (#41367993) Homepage

      Apple is definitely not the cheapest option, but neither are the high-end and competing Android devices. The point is not that the top of the line items don't sell, it is that the budget options have become insanely cheap in the Big Mac index.

      • Case in point. I was just asked what type of digital picture frame to should get. I said get an Android tablet and throw a picture frame app on it. For the price of the decent digital picture frames ($99 - $130) you can find quite a few good tablets.
    • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

      Except that the hardware on the iPhone isn't all that expensive. 150 bucks or something. Maybe 200 on the top end, and that cost will go down fairly quickly. The expensive part is the software.

    • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:14PM (#41368281)
    • Re:Absolutely. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:17PM (#41368317)

      iPhones hit that "stupid spot" in the American consumer - no money down, affordable monthly payments, visible bling to flash around with your friends, and it has grown into a hip-cool brand too.

      Doesn't matter what it does or doesn't do, with those components you've got a winner.

    • Re:Absolutely. (Score:5, Informative)

      by afgam28 ( 48611 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:22PM (#41368387)

      You didn't read the article, did you? The author's argument was that businesses that sell pure hardware will struggle. He specifically singled out Apple as an example of a company that also sells integrated software, and therefore does not have this problem.

  • Nope (Score:2, Insightful)

    There will always be a market for premium hardware. This is just abjectly idiotic.
    • Re:Nope (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rtaylor ( 70602 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @05:51PM (#41367963) Homepage

      Yup. Recently spent nearly $50k for a new machine (512GB ram, 64 CPU, etc.). Seems many people are using low end hardware at the client end and expecting the cloud (which for some applications is not easily distributed) to do the real work.

      • Re:Nope (Score:5, Funny)

        by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:02PM (#41368111) Homepage Journal

        Yup. Recently spent nearly $50k for a new machine (512GB ram, 64 CPU, etc.).


        Can I be your friend?

      • Obviously the author is a Consumer Electronics analyst, and he's referring to Consumer Electronic Computing Devices, not your mid-range server. In the Grand Tradition of Slashdot Car Analogies, your statement is like the following:

        Early 20th Century Auto Industry Analyst: Steam Power is Dead.
        Early 20th Century Smug Slashdotter!: But my gigantic power generation plant runs on steam!

    • Yep (Score:4, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:07PM (#41368181)

      A great area to look at it home audio. Time was, everything was pretty expensive. There wasn't really a cheap option. When cleaning out my grandfather's house my father found an old Allied Electronics catalogue from 1970. He and I had fun looking through it, and he found several items he used to have. They were around the lower end of what you could get from it, around $150 for a stereo receiver. That works out to about $900 today.

      Well when you do some research you find that you can get $150, or even cheaper, receivers these days. However you can also get $900+ ones. I'm not even talking ultra expensive audiophile crap, I'm talking stuff you can get from Denon, Onkyo, Yamaha, and so on.

      People buy these because in addition to more features you get better build quality and so on. A simple example is that cheaper Denons are built in China, the more expensive ones are built in Japan, because they can get tighter quality control.

      While cheap devices are no doubt popular both because they allow people who could otherwise not afford them to have one and because many people look only at short term cost, that doesn't mean expensive devices go away. Some people want more than the cheap devices, or simply want something that will last longer.

      Personally I'm quite a fan of buying better quality things to have them last longer. Not only do I like things being nice, but I find it actually costs me less in the long run since I end up replacing them less frequently.

      • I bought a series of $20 DVD players, they were just so irresistible in the store - at $20 you'll spend more in gas driving to a couple of stores to shop the deal - no brainer, if it works for a year it's a winner.

        They used to work for 2 or 3 years, then I got a couple that only lasted 6 or so months - finally got a $200 Denon about 5 years ago and it's still running like a champ.

        Of course, it didn't have HDMI, etc. etc., so now it's technologically outmoded, but still does what it always did well, and tho

      • A great area to look at it home audio. Time was, everything was pretty expensive. There wasn't really a cheap option. When cleaning out my grandfather's house my father found an old Allied Electronics catalogue from 1970. He and I had fun looking through it, and he found several items he used to have. They were around the lower end of what you could get from it, around $150 for a stereo receiver.

        You really should take a look at this Radio Shack catalog from 1970: http://www.radioshackcatalogs.com/catalogs/ [radioshackcatalogs.com]

      • Re:Yep (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Miamicanes ( 730264 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:53PM (#41368753)

        The REAL problem is that as cheap, corner-cut bottom-dollar hardware becomes the ubiquitous norm, the cost of getting something even SLIGHTLY better begins to go up exponentially because Joe Sixpack and ten million of his friends are no longer absorbing most of its fixed costs. You end up in a situation like we have today, where the worst and cheapest of cheap hardware enjoys 99.997% of the economy-of-scale benefit, and the hardware YOU want to buy ends up costing 4-16 times as much, and isn't 4-16 times better. So, we end up with things like optical-disc players that literally and physically break after just a few months. 45" or larger LCD TVs that cost $400, but randomly die after 9-30 months and can't be meaningfully repaired because TV repair shops aren't staffed by EEs with hot air rework tools, service manuals barely exist & are often reverse-engineered, and it usually ends up costing more to pay someone to TRY and fix it (with no assurance of success) than to throw it to the curb and buy a new one, even if the actual problem is a cold solder joint somewhere.

        Or, my pet peeve: the disappearance of proper deinterlacing chips, like Faroudja's DCDi that could somehow make ratty analog interlaced broadcast video look good, in favor of cheaper solutions that completely brutalize the quality of scaled 1080i60 video & anything that didn't start out as 24fps film.

        Not to mention my other pet peeve -- "720p class" TVs whose specs are basically fraudulent & work by treating 1080i60 like fake 540p60, and hacking both fake 540p60 and 720p60 down to 480p60. Hint: any TV smaller than 32 inches advertised as "720p class" is VERY unlikely to actually have 1280x720 physical resolution (or better), unless it's explicitly advertised as having a 1366x768 "computer" mode. It completely blows my mind that it's even legal to advertise a panel having a physical resolution of 850x480 (give or take) as "720p class" just because it's capable of converting 720p60 and 1080i60 into something it can display on the fly instead of freaking out and displaying an error message. Or "720p60/1080p30" camcorders whose actual video quality looks like a $20 USB webcam, because they're feeding source video that's NOWHERE close to 1280x720, let alone 1920x1080, into a media processor ASIC, encoding it as 4mbit/sec h.264, and calling it "720p60" or "1080p30" just because that's its nominal encoding resolution.

        IMHO, "spec inflation" is the biggest crime of all. If $80 camcorders were required by law to be advertised based on their image sensor resolution rather than their encoded output resolution & disclose their dynamic range at a given signal/noise ratio, and $99 19" TVs had to disclose their physically-addressable pixel resolutions & be advertised as 18.51" TVs, we wouldn't have nearly the problem we do now, because it would make their absence of quality more obvious. Unfortunately, manufacturers are now allowed to sell garbage disguised as real products, and simultaneously destroy the market for the real thing.

      • They were around the lower end of what you could get from it, around $150 for a stereo receiver. That works out to about $900 today.

        I live in a house from the late 60s that has speaker wires strung all over the place to a single location in the den, simply because it was too expensive to stick individual receivers in more than one room. Today you just get a Denon distributed system or a bunch of Airport Express units for less money and have something that is even more versatile.

    • by tthomas48 ( 180798 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:18PM (#41368331) Homepage

      There will always be a market for status. What form that status takes is another thing entirely.

    • Re:Nope (Score:4, Insightful)

      by quenda ( 644621 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @08:22PM (#41369653)

      There will always be a market for premium hardware. This is just abjectly idiotic.

      Always is a long time. Try visiting your local hardware store and aking about the "premium" brand of nails, or copper wire.

      My grandfather's blacksmith swore by Glasgow Metalworks nails, and would never buy that cheaper generic made-in-America crap.

  • by faragon ( 789704 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @05:47PM (#41367893) Homepage
    Those pads have AllWinner A10/A13 SoC (ARM Cortex A8 @1.2GHz and GPU ARM Mali 400), 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of flash. I see no reason for not having mobile phones with similar technology (the AllWinner A10/A13 is a tiny SoC) for similar price (e.g. Broadcom or Qualcomm could add 3G easily and sell their own cost-killer SoC for smartphones). IMO, is going to change everything, as everyone will be able to have an smartphone.
    • I've got a cheapo A10 powered tablet running ICS and it sucks. It's sluggish, 3D performance sucks, web video and audio rarely work right in either Chrome or Dolphin, and Flash is an absolute joke. A lot of apps that run without any problems on my Nexus 7 crash mysteriously on it.

      I would hate to imagine my main cell phone being A10 powered and having the same shit reliability as my cheapo tablet. Even a low end cell phone needs to be serviceable as an actual phone (meaning decent battery life and reliabilit

    • Well, everyone can have a broken smartphone at least.

  • This is over on HN right now, there's some pretty decent discussion related to the history of Pc's, and how we've seen the 'end' of hardware twice at least so far.

    I agree with that - there will always be a market for high-end electronics. Always. Someone will want it. Will it be as large as we've seen? Probably not. But, this article is about turning hardware (cheap tablets actually) into a commodity instead of a luxury.

    What will happen, instead of death, is that we'll see a bottom-floor cheap ass price str

    • PCs flirt with breaking the $400 price floor, then they seem to retreat back upwards. Atom and low end AMDs were good enough, until 7 replaced XP, now they're kind of dogging down. And, I'd swear that my XP running eeeBox PCs are getting slower with every new XP update.

      • It's probably mostly thanks to Microsoft and their crap OS. Remember when netbooks came out, running Linux, and how cheap and capable they were? Then MS put the squeeze on all the netbook makers, forced them to dump Linux and put some shitty Windows version on there (which slowed them down and increased the cost), and netbooks quickly became nearly extinct.

        If it weren't for monopoly control of the market, we probably would have super-cheap PCs. That said, I managed to buy a low-end Lenovo laptop with an

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 17, 2012 @05:49PM (#41367935)

    because somewhere, some poor bastard always pays the difference in terms of lowered wages, slavelike labour, oh and of course there are dollars to save by screwing up the environment by improper mining and waste disposal.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tuppe666 ( 904118 )

      because somewhere, some poor bastard always pays the difference in terms of lowered wages, slavelike labour, oh and of course there are dollars to save by screwing up the environment by improper mining and waste disposal.

      As we have seen even Apple use Foxconn

    • by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:24PM (#41368405) Homepage

      In principle I agree with you 100%. This is what China's manufacturing sector depends on - low wages and low environmental accountability, two area where he west cannot (and should not) compete. This is also one of the reasons I buy locally manufactured goods where possible.

      However in the case of tablets and smartphones the big name brands are manufactured in very similar, if not identical, conditions to the cheap ones,. In that light the appeal of expensive ones evaporates.

      • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @07:07PM (#41368871)

        With electronics, there's no such thing as "locally manufactured" for the most part. The best you can do is locally assembled, as it's possible to buy components here and PCBs and have them assembled in the USA (at a very, very high cost; I've looked into it; I think the military contractors are keeping the prices very high). But the components themselves (resistors, capacitors, ICs, etc.) are mostly made in Asia these days, with some things made in Italy.

  • Gourmet food dead (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyuuzakiTetsuya ( 195424 ) <taiki AT cox DOT net> on Monday September 17, 2012 @05:50PM (#41367937)

    Gourmet food must also be dead because you can feed yourself off of cheap multivitamins and cheap microwaveable burritos and tap water.

    • Gourmet food serves roughly the same size market it has for the last 100 years - but, sadly, not expressed per capita but in raw numbers. Population grows, but those who choose to afford good food do not.

  • As a high profit business

    Lots of businesses survive on thin margins

  • This guy is a little behind with his prediction, since it's already happening. I remember seeing those predatory lenders outside college campuses with their "Sign up for our credit card, get a free mp3 player" booths *at least* ten years ago. Car dealers have been giving out iPhones and such as promo deals for years. Some banks have advertised free stuff like that to my snail mail. Sign up for a 2-year phone contract, you get a ~$450 subsidy towards a phone. Right now in September 2012, you can get an iPhon

  • Things aren't expensive because (shocker) MORE PEOPLE USE THEM.

    It has nothing to do with people making stuff expensive for expensive sake, it has everything to do with the fact that when a new iPhone came out two million people ordered one in 24 hours.

    hell five years ago if a device that did computery stuff did anything close to that people would have freaked out. Now? iPhone 5 is SUCH a disappointment.

  • Actually, pretty much since the start of personal computing, in my experience, anyway, the computer you want is always about $3000US

    Not sure how that applies to tablets or phones or portable gamers.

    • The desktop PC at my first job cost 2 months' salary, had a 15" color monitor, and took 5-10 minutes to compile the product.

      The desktop PC at my current job cost 2 days' salary, has 2 24" 1080p panels, and takes 5-10 minutes to compile the product, while I surf the web - including HD video, and stream Pandora.

  • In the tablet market at least, there's little compelling reason to go for anything over $200. With the likes of the Boxchip A13 there's hardly any point going above $150 unless you need some premium feature like quad-core.

    Seriously, how many people on /. haven't bought sub-$90 Android tablets from Chinese resellers in the past year or so?

    I try to buy locally-made products where I can, but given the big name tablets and phones are made in the same province as the cheap stuff, there's no advantage there.

    • i'm afraid my chinese import tablet will be made with lead-coated buttons covered in cyanide powder, or i'd buy one. natch.
  • by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:27PM (#41368441) Journal

    56 dollars [frys.com]

    For the price I paid for my iPad,I could load up my backpack with 10 of these. Imagine a beowulf of tablets!

  • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:29PM (#41368451)

    Ever since Apple went bankrupt after it tried to sell that disastrous mp3 "pod" player thing in the early 2000s (not as much space as my Nomad but more expensive? no thanks!), we've known that the market for high-end, "premium" products had finally closed up. And it's a good thing too, since the last thing we need are more sheeple with a superiority complex getting suckered into bad deals. The Dells my family use have been running rock solid (well, aside from the swollen/leaking capacitor issue, but everyone gets those, even Compaq), and my netbook is a great experience compared to those high-end UMPC [wikipedia.org] devices that ended up sinking the tablet market once and for all. [Ed. note: not everything is a loss in this alternate universe ;)]

    I mean, in some other industries, such as cars, high-end products tend to have features that find their way into the more commodity lines after a few years, but we never saw that happening with computers or those weird "smartphone" things that Handspring and Palm used to make before they went belly-up (why would you want to pay hundreds of dollars to have your e-mail with you?). And now that we've been away from premium computers and electronics for awhile, I can't imagine what we're possibly missing out on, to be honest. I mean, my top-of-the-line RAZR V15 can display thousands of colors with the best of them and is easy to use for texting, came free with a two-year contract, and they even added "multiphonic" ringtones with the latest model.

    Personally, I feel that we're better off for being rid of the high-end electronics market. It added nothing of value, no one was buying into it, and it's allowed us to refocus on the products that are actually selling, which are all going for free or close to it. Speaking of which, has anyone seen that the V16 will only have 128MB of space for songs? What the hell? That's so 2010, but at least it beats the crap out of the stuff the Sony Ericsson fanboys are still using.

    • Ever since Apple went bankrupt after it tried to sell that disastrous mp3 "pod" player thing in the early 2000s (not as much space as my Nomad but more expensive? no thanks!),

      I remember my history being different, Apple had an MP3 player at EVERY price point...and still do. The iPod was more expensive than the competition, but unlike the iPhone/iPad not by a lot, but they had branding and were universal, a monopoly in every sense.

      • The initial iPod (now called "Classic") was not at every price point, and was very much a high-end mp3 player. It wasn't until the mini came out over two years later and the shuffle the year after that that they really started to go lower, but by then, Apple had gone bankrupt in my alternate history.

  • There are many aspects to low cost hardware, from boutique graphics cards and expensive cooling rigs, to other parts of the system. One aspect is low cost peripherals, like mice and keyboards. I worry that in the race to a $1 mouse, mice became cheap and disposable. I see a lot of un-recycled computer and electronic hardware at the transfer station (aka, a dump) I go to once a month. If cheap hardware was more reliable and a little more expensive, there wouldn't be tons of it going into the landfills.


  • by jgotts ( 2785 ) <jgottsNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday September 17, 2012 @06:39PM (#41368583)

    Yes, hardware is super cheap. That's because we make it all in China. China has a huge labor base that has no say whatsoever in the political system. Labor and environmental laws, lax as they are, are not enforced.

    However, the Chinese economy is beginning to falter and labor unrest is on the rise. I used to think that Chinese pay would normalize with the West and that manufacturing would move to cheaper markets. Now I'm beginning to think differently. There will be major political unrest in China, supply chains will be severely disrupted, and hardware will move back to expensive labor markets, not cheap ones. Cheaper markets just don't have the infrastructure to match China and the West. Observe what happened in Thailand last year because they couldn't deal with a simple flood.

    So this period of super-cheap hardware fueled by the greed of CEO's will come to an end, factories will move back to the West, and things won't just be a bit more expensive, they will be considerably more expensive because of technical expertise lost to a Chinese state in chaos or decline.

  • People pay 100s, 1,000s or more times for clothes than the actual manufacturing cost. Because clothes also have a social value, by making you look good, advertising that you know how to dress well and fashionably, and, above all, conveying that you have money to throw away on overpriced bits of cloths.

    Same for computing devices really. There's one company I'm thinking of... ^^

  • Cheap hardware and software waste my time.

    Quality tools let me get my work done.

    Beware of false savings.

  • Wow, are they nuts? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @07:46PM (#41369339) Homepage

    I work for people that will pay $23,000 for a TV set. They paid $19,000 for their 12 room whole house audio amp. I am guessing that the author of the article is some young kid that knows nothing at all about electronics in general and is far too young to realize there is a HUGE market for very high end anything. Look up the price for a Sub-Zero fridge or a Viking Range some time to find out what rich people are buying. One of my clients has a $6500 gas grill on his deck.

    a $900 64gig 3G iPad is nothing to them. The Crestron Remote I just sold them for their living room AV gear was $1100.00

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky