bundled crapware and the Windows monopoly
Posted Feb 1, 2013 21:23 UTC (Fri) by pboddie
In reply to: bundled crapware and the Windows monopoly
Parent article: LCA: The future of the Linux desktop
I think they probably do care about the cost to the customer and just know that cost better than you.
I would hope that they would know the difference in price and indeed what effect that would have on their sales. However, as we saw with HP's announced abandonment of personal computer manufacturing and sales, and the sudden subsequent U-turn around that decision, the big vendors have raced to the bottom in terms of pricing and margins (and thus costs and arguably product quality), and feel that the only way forward is to compete purely on price through whatever means (subsidising from crapware peddlers or the likes of Microsoft and Intel) or to get out of the game.
(Getting out of the game has a knock-on effect for HP because without a PC portfolio they won't get their foot in the door for various sales opportunities - people like to deal with a single vendor sometimes, which can also be an abdication of their responsibilities in certain sectors, but that's another story - and one would have thought that the CEO would have been better informed about such things before opening his mouth, but I guess corporate knowledge doesn't always reach where it needs to.)
I'm not sure I follow your math, but the fact is that the computer costs less because it has Windows plus crapware than if it had Linux (which implies no crapware). The question is would the customer rather pay more for Linux. Or for Windows without crapware, for that matter. I have no trouble believing the answer is no.
People will buy the thing that costs the least if there's no notable difference between that and the thing that costs more. But I'm also referring to the non-financial cost: the frustration that people have with certain kinds of crapware like bundled anti-virus products and things that make the experience of using the computer worse. If crapware were completely benign and even enhanced the experience, it would be a win-win-lose situation rather than a win-draw-lose (at best): the people who lose irrespective of the quality of the crapware are vendors of alternative products.
As for crapware being just another opportunity to generate revenue by offering services to remove it, I can't believe that because the explanation Bdale gave sounds like a fully plausible additional purpose.
Oh, it most certainly is a revenue-generating opportunity. That's another aspect of the "financial acrobatics" basis of modern retailing.
You mention pricing transparency, but you seem to be describing something else. Transparency would be customers can see how the price of the computer got to be what it is (e.g. $200 for the OS minus $250 for crapware that runs only on that OS), whereas I think you're talking about flexibility (e.g. customer could decline the crapware for an extra $250 and take $250 from someone else for different crapware).
I want both! And once you have transparency, which is already mandatory for things like mobile phone plans in various places, the next question that people ask is about being able to unbundle products because it becomes clear that they are being sold a shopping list of products and not a single monolithic thing. It may seem absurd to some that someone would rather pay $50 extra for "the same product" and not be subjected to advertising, but that's actually a widely recognised business model in itself.
There are practical issues like how one might get, say, Ubuntu plus Amazon advertising specifically instead of Windows plus crapware advertising, or just plain Ubuntu or Windows, or even nothing at all, and this would obviously affect the supply chain of the big vendors who would rather have everything negotiated and installed before the computer leaves the factory, but I see that as a consequence of the inflexibility of the vendors fed by their own self-destructive behaviour. Apple managed to do pretty well with their margins even before they started to push their services into every corner and crevice of their products.
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