A New Laptop Shopping Experience

A few weeks ago, a friend purchased a new HP pv5 Pavilion from Best Buy. The retail price was $550 although I was a little surprised the laptop did not come with a Windows restore CD. As someone who’s been regularly purchasing PCs for over 15 years, I was surprised this laptop was sans restore CD. Some may say it’s a security blanket but having this restore CD helps address or combat any major operating issues you may have with this device. What from what I’ve seen and heard, the majority of new PCs don’t come with this important resource.

Don’t fear, Best Buy to the rescue. For $70, Best Buy will clean up the PC (which means it will delete unnecessary applications), ensure it’s running at the optimal level and create a system image after the clean up (in case you need to reload your OS with applications). For $100, you can get all that plus they will create a system restore CD. You may look at these prices and say, “Let’s say you don’t want your PC cleaned up but just a system restore CD, will they create one for $30?” The answer is no, it’s not that easy. You need to spend $100 in order to get that important CD.

How interesting, a business opportunity because either the Operating System manufacturer (Microsoft) or the laptop/desktop manufacturer decides restore CDs will no longer be shipped with new computer purchases.

Laptop Shopping

Unpeel The Onion

Fortunately, being familiar with the process, I created a system restore CD in about 5 minutes so I was able to save $30. On the other hand, cleaning the new laptop and eliminating most of the overhead is a big deal; it’s time consuming and cumbersome. One by one, you have to uninstall and clean each of the unwanted or unneeded applications. Sometimes, after the uninstall, the system wants to reboot to ensure the program is uninstalled. This can delay the clean up time. Even if you don’t reboot, each uninstalled application may take up to 5 minutes to remove. If you have 30 applications which is quite common, the bare minimum of clean up is 3 hours.

You find companies like Microsoft, HP, Adobe, Intel, Norton and others add additional software for marketing purposes although it creates a support challenge to get your PC cleaned up. If you do it yourself, it’s good policy to remove as many of the unnecessary programs before you actually create a system image for your PC.

Is there a business reason why Microsoft no longer sips Windows 7 CD with new laptops, desktops or notebooks? Or should the onus be placed on computer makers? Who decides when to do what? I don’t know…

More and more software makers have found another software licensing channel – provide a 30 or 90 day trial, get some users hooked or feel they can’t live without their software. Is this channel somehow more successful than purchasing individual software through the brick and mortar channel?

Do all computer manufacturers have similar arrangements as HP when it comes to marketing computer software on new PCs? Are most novice PC purchasers prepared for this type of subtle marketing? If novice users ignore this type of marketing and leave these applications on their new PC, in a year or two, are they apt to see the correlation between too much overhead and their system performance?

ADDENDUM. After I had finished this particular post, I found this blog post by Seth Godin and it addresses some similar issues with all the additional programs installed on new laptops and desktops.

It’s no wonder they don’t trust us

I just set up a friend’s PC. I haven’t done that in a while. Wow. Apparently, a computer is now not a computer, it’s an opportunity to upsell you. First, the setup insisted (for my own safety) that I sign up for an eternal subscription to Norton. Then it defaulted (opt out) to sending me promotional emails. Then there were the dozens (at least it felt like dozens) of buttons and searches I had to endure to switch the search box from Bing to Google. And the icons on the desktop that had been paid for by various partners and the this-comes-with-that of just about everything. The digital world, even the high end brands, has become a sleazy carnival, complete with hawkers, barkers and a bearded lady. By the time someone actually gets to your site, they’ve been conned, popped up, popped under and upsold so many times they really have no choice but to be skeptical. Basically, it’s a race to the bottom, with so many people spamming trackbacks, planning popups and scheming to trick the surfer with this or that that we’ve bullied people into a corner of believing no one. You can play along, or you can be so clean and so straightforward that people are stunned into loyalty. You know, as in, “do it for the user,” and “offer stuff that just works” and “this is what you get and that’s all you get and you won’t have to wonder about the fine print.” Rare and refreshing. An opportunity, in fact.


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