Beyond the PC Slowdown

By Scot Petersen  |  Posted 2001-01-15

Weve read a lot of news and commentary lately about the infamous PC slowdown, including the latest from eWeeks own editorial board. Such a slowdown is indeed here, and its been a long time coming. There are too many megahertz out there chasing too few demanding computing functions, and thats led to a technological recession the likes of which we havent seen before.

But its even worse than you think because its never going to be like it once was. One of the seldom-talked-about reasons for a slowdown in PC orders from corporate America is that IT managers (and their budgets) have wised up. Retooling with the latest and greatest is no longer a rallying cry. Company executives didnt fully buy the Microsoft marketing pitch that Windows 2000 is for corporate OSes while Windows 98 and ME are for home users.

In fact, Windows 98 is a capable corporate desktop. Most IT shops will use an OS upgrade as an excuse for buying an all-new system. But if theres no crying need to upgrade the platform, theres even less need for a new machine. Microsoft is trying to counter this anti-upgrade trend with its .Net Web services strategy, but my belief is that corporate America isnt buying this line of reasoning either.

All of which is drying up other opportunities for the software industry and creating a false demand for handheld and wireless devices and services—a demand that isnt nearly ready to be fulfilled because of a confusing glut of mismatched services and networks vying for our attention.

Its sad to see. In the mid-90s, we all thought the computer industry would keep booming. Trouble is, it grew so fast that it peaked years before we were ready for it, and now we are stuck searching for the next big thing, with wireless products the prime candidate. Wed all be better off realizing the cold, hard facts. High tech has become a mature, slow-growth business akin to the automobile or oil industries. Get used to it.

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