I have one question about tanking PC sales: why did it take so long?
After all, its the same old crummy PC. There are no groundbreaking features these days—even if you wanted to inflict more pain on yourself trying to get them to work. As a result, PC companies are revising their forecasts downward, and prices are falling for the umpteenth time.
My frequent complaints about PCs have stirred the ire of many respondents to this column. Using considerably more colorful language, some of you have told me to get more technical, to drop dead and to stop inflicting this rant on intelligent people. And then there are the dull-normals who generally agree with me. Many, over the years, have suggested getting a Mac, a long-overdue action I am now taking in place of upgrading my 4-year-old Dell Dimension.
I concede its as easy to dump on the PC as it is to dump on your least-favorite politician. Come to think of it, both work 60 percent to 80 percent of the time. And excuse me for harping on it, but two encounters last week compel me to spill my guts once again.
In a conversation with one of the leading business software developers of the past dozen years, I found out his PC experiences were like mine. He hates PCs and changes nothing in them, on the off chance that he gets them firing on more than six of all eight cylinders. We both agreed that serving as a home IT professional is to be avoided (I am reasonably technical in mucking around a PC). He would be very embarrassed if his name were revealed.
Regardless of ones technical acumen, failure and wasted time are built into the PCs freedom of choosing components and software. The appeal of choice has long since passed, and, perhaps, the failure of that strategy is the chief reason that Apple has roared back from several near-death experiences.
What reinforces my view that the PCs flakiness doesnt discriminate between techies and newbies is a heinous act of incredible stupidity on my part, one that violated the single most important rule of PC ownership: Never mess with a mostly functioning PC.
The $200 expansion hard drive from Maxtor sitting there on that Comp USA shelf was just too good to pass up. The devil on one shoulder whispered, "Cmon, Johnny boy. Thats 40 gigs that youll have in no time." On my other shoulder, an angel warned, "Expansion-anything in a PC sits at the root of all evil. Pass up thy offer."
The little red guy with the fork won out, and now "thy PC" sits in pieces on my IT friends workbench with a corrupted operating system and two drives that sort of work every other time. My expansion drive adventure bombed, as I knew it would, had I considered it before I made the fateful turn down that CompUSA aisle.
My decision to buy a Mac was made before I bought the drive. My other PCs home hard disk has failed, and I didnt want to put up with it anymore. The $1,500 iMac DV Special Edition was the only place to turn. Maybe I should buy two.