What’s Missing From the PC Market

In the last six months, we added two PC laptops to our household. In some ways it was more agonizing than buying a car or choosing a health club. I spent a lot of time looking at MacBooks and nearly, God help me, bought one, because Apple made the buying process so much simpler. It was almost worth paying the premium just for that.

Choice is good, but enough is enough. Even within one brand, I found it impossible to keep everything straight. Office Depot offered version CQ456W. Then I’d go over to Walmart or Staples or Best Buy to compare prices. Except I couldn’t, exactly. Because the other stores each had slightly different models. The CP456W. Or the CQ457Z. And this meant that while it had the same hard drive size or graphics card, it had 3 GB RAM instead of 4, or it had a slightly faster processor but a worse graphics card, or it had the ability to add SSD storage, but it didn’t have the nice keyboard or the battery life the other model had. Or it had everything I wanted—but with a 15” instead of a 13” screen. And all of this would result in some slight difference in price.

If I had the time and the contacts, I’d start a PC company that did the essentially the same thing Apple does in terms of hardware. Three models. Cheap, middling, and higher end. All the same size, 13-14”, because a laptop should be a laptop and it should fit on an airplane seat tray and/or in one of those oversized handbags women lug around these days.

These are the specs:

  • Colors, for God’s sake. One place where choice is good.
  • Metal. You’re working on the thing all day. It needs to feel sweet.
  • Excellent display resolution. Remember this is a PC, not a toy.
  • 4 RAM in the base model, 2 x 2. Go up from there, and don’t take away other features when you add RAM.
  • 320 HD in the base model. In the second model, offer the ability to switch out the regular HD for SSD. In the top model, SSD should be included.
  • Chic let keyboard, because you use a laptop at a coffee shop. And what are you going to do there? Right. The keyboard has to be good with muffin crumbs.
  • Recessed trackpad, with the nice little OFF button that Acer makes for its Aspire line so the cursor doesn’t jump around. The zoom/scroll features that Acer and Asus offer, and yeah, that they copied from Apple. Who cares; it’s a good stuff.
  • Hello? Battery life? Minimum four hours in the base model. If you can’t make a battery last this long, throw in a free spare.
  • Dedicated graphics in models 2 and 3.
  • Intel 2 Duo Core processors as a minimum and again, go UP with each model, and don’t knock down any feature when you add another.
  • Call them Models 1, 2, 3 or A, B, C. Or give them actual names, like Labrador, Husky, and Wolfhound or something. None of this XJCP32897ZQD stuff.
  • If you want, add a 17” screen option at the midline or the high end.
  • If you must, offer a specialized gaming line. But I’d just leave that for some other company to do.
  • Great customer service.
  • Price: $600, $900, $1200. Feel free to come in lower, but that’s what I’d pay.

If someone out there starts a company that makes these PCs, I’m here to help you with the PR/storytelling.

(Asus, Dell, and Sony all come close to offering some version of the above, but you still have to hunt through the noise of all the models, and each of them is missing something…metal casings, or cool keyboards, or sharp displays, or customer service…I’m just saying that there’s either an opportunity for one of these companies to tighten up [and hire me] or for someone new to jump in [and hire me].)

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One response to “What’s Missing From the PC Market

  1. Good post – good points. Why aren’t there baseline PC’s? I’d buy more quickly if there were. As it is, I’m STILL using my Mac G4 laptop from 2004 not because I lack interest or resources to acquire a new PC but because I can’t seem to pull the trigger. Whenever a product is so CONFUSINGLY PACKAGED I feel I am being tricked into something.

    So you’re right. Dell should hire you. But as a Senior Product Manager, not a PR person, I think.

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