PC Market Remains Stuck in the Muck

Last week, Intel president Craig Barrett, speaking in Malaysia, said the PC industry has bottomed out.

Last week, Intel president Craig Barrett, speaking in Malaysia, said the PC industry has bottomed out. This was seen as good news by Wall Street, which has been looking this summer for reasons to believe in a market recovery. The market may have bottomed out, but Id say it has to make serious amends before it can extract itself from the muck. While chip buying may be turning a bit of a corner, I think customers are looking for some new initiatives from vendors to address some old questions. Consider:

Code Red. I know the Code Red worm tunnels into Microsofts IIS servers and not computers sitting on your desk. But after years of security warnings, bugs, worms and hack attacks, the issue of security only worsens.

With each new bug report or billion-dollar damage estimate or SirCam bug infection or hack attack, the publics faith in using the technologies allowing worldwide communication and commerce are weakened.

As Dennis Fisher points out in this weeks issue (Page 9), the Code Red worm is a serious escalation of the hacking wars because the application computing layer now becomes the intruders target. Telling users they are responsible for downloading patches and turning off scripting is not the way to build future sales.

Building a secure computing environment has always been, and remains, the first step in building the much-championed digital economy. To date, the security issue seems to be worsening in severity, rather than being resolved.

Dont be complacent. Lots of vendors have written off the outsourced service idea as a solution in search of a problem. But as this weeks "Superplugged" article illustrates, IBM has been leading the pack in coming up with an IT utility model that makes sense. IBM, Sun and HP, among others, are spending lots of money in this downturn to make the information utility a winner. Vendors shouldnt discount the past; they should learn from it. I think users are ready this time to give the IT utility some serious consideration. It will be the companies that have made substantial investments in intelligent projects that will reap the rewards in an upturn.

The PCs anniversary. This week in San Jose, Intel and Microsoft are leading an event marking the 20th anniversary of the PC. Although I seem to remember certain companies named IBM, Commodore and Apple having something to do with the invention of the PC, I dont see any great harm in the Wintel duo holding the party.

But it seems it would be a most appropriate moment to retire the "cheaper and faster" mantra that has driven the business for the past 20 years.

Id suggest "safer and more reliable" will do more to revive the industrys sales.

Users dont want systems that are prone to coughing up their e-mail contacts to hackers or that need rebooting a couple times per day.