Things That Make Me Go Hmmm…

I was on Lenovo.com yesterday, looking for PCs with GNU/Linux. Searching every which way, I found nothing. Finally, I took advantage of an agressive/in your face popup offering to chat with a human being. I told the human being what I was seeking and was told that I could just buy any of their PCs and install GNU/Linux on it. When I replied that I didn’t want to pay for something I wasn’t going to use, M$’s OS, she responded with (paraphrasing) “that’s what everybody does”.

Lenovo may not see anything wrong with getting paid extra for selling a PC by splitting a fee for the OS with M$ but I do. It’s just wrong to demand payment for something of no value unless you’re a charity or such fundraiser. Businesses don’t get to charge me for a paint-job when I take my car in for an oil-change. Hiding the price of the OS in with the price of the hardware is wrong too. When I have the option of Engine A or Engine B buying a car, the auto-maker will tell me the difference in price. Lenovo should certainly supply no-OS PCs for people like me and let the world know what M$ is costing them. No business should get a free ride being able to charge an arbitrary amount without even disclosing the cost to the consumer. It’s not like an OS is not a user-serviceable part. Users can and do change OS. They should not be forced to pay for an OS they don’t use. I told Lenovo that. I hope they’re listening.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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31 Responses to Things That Make Me Go Hmmm…

  1. Deaf Spy says:

    Based on the content of your comments you tend to overestimate a lot of things….including the value of your comments to anyone here.

    Oh, I am absolutely aware that I am casting pearls before swine here. But you know, I am having fun doing it. Human weaknesses.

  2. oiaohm says:

    DrLoser Please don’t accuse me of stuff you are doing.

    I do normally read way more than the head line.

  3. DrLoser says:

    Right on spot, Mr. Pogson. Now imagine what the price would be when an OEM orders a ship container of these. My guess is $3 – 3.5. Mind you, it is an educated, well informed guess.

    Educated, well informed “guesses” are no use round here, DeafSpy!

    Citations, citations, citations! And a bit of recreational chair-throwing on the side.

    Citations is what we demand, and citations is what we expect. Citations and honest appraisal of those citations is the very life-blood of this site!

    Apart from oiaohm, of course, who very rarely gets past parsing the headline of the citation.

  4. DrLoser says:

    …including the value of your comments to anyone here.

    I presume two things here, lpbbear.

    1) You have implicitly filtered “anyone here” to a somewhat smaller subset, according to unpublished criteria known only to yourself.
    2) You have confused the generally accepted meaning of “value” with the somewhat weaker criterion of “individually perceived value.”

    Now, I cannot help you with your unfortunate inability to comprehend the general notion of “value,” which amongst other things involves not having a block-headed and intransigent view on the various wonders of the world, but I can at least save Robert some time by quoting Websters, 1913, on the two subjects:

    Value (Page: 1592)
    Val”ue (?), n. [OF. value, fr. valoir, p. p. valu, to be worth, fr. L. valere to be strong, to be worth. See Valiant.]
    1. The property or aggregate properties of a thing by which it is rendered useful or desirable, or the degree of such property or sum of properties; worth; excellence; utility; importance. [1593]
    2. (Trade & Polit. Econ.) Worth estimated by any standard of purchasing power, especially by the market price, or the amount of money agreed upon as an equivalent to the utility and cost of anything
    In political economy, value is often distinguished as intrinsic and exchangeable. Intrinsic value is the same as utility or adaptation to satisfy the desires or wants of men. Exchangeable value is that in an article or product which disposes individuals to give for it some quantity of labor, or some other article or product obtainable by labor; as, pure air has an intrinsic value, but generally not an exchangeable value.
    3. Precise signification; import; as, the value of a word; the value of a legal instrument.
    4. Esteem; regard. Dryden … [and three other irrelevant definitions]

    PERCE”IVED, pp. Known by the senses; felt; understood; observed.

    Interestingly, the latter of those two is not available in the 1913 edition; it dates back to the 1828 original.

    Oh well, as I’m sure Robert will agree — it’s important to cite authorities before making claims such as the difference between “value” and “perceived value.”

  5. DrLoser says:

    Oh yes. My first IBM-compatible came in a box marked “made in Taiwan”. It was a PC-XT with an 8-bit processor. Darned thing was a toy compared to a modern PC but it still cost close to $1K for just a box.

    Always pays to read the small print, Robert … as with EULAs. Mind you, a thousand loonies just for the box does sound a little excessive.

    What did the IBM compatible cost?

    😉

  6. lpbbear says:

    “Obviously I have overestimated your abilities to carry out a discussion.”

    Based on the content of your comments you tend to overestimate a lot of things….including the value of your comments to anyone here.

  7. Deaf Spy says:

    Perhaps you should pay more attention yourself troll.

    Obviously I have overestimated your abilities to carry out a discussion.

    Go http://www.tradingeconomics.com/china/exports and check out the export of China for 90’s and today. I hope you can read graphs and numbers.

  8. Deaf Spy says:

    Pogson wrote: Imagine the cost of delivery… Can you deliver anything by courier for $5? The Chinese ship container-loads to Vancouver and distribute via courier from there. With IT it costs them nothing more to do that for consumers or businesses.

    I imagine that the courier is more expensive than the price to get the thing to the port. Retail shops from China (dx.com) send worldwide for… $0. True, you wait for a month, but you get your stuff. Of course, the actual costs are included in the retail price.

    Now we speak of volumes. There, you transport goods with containers via ships. You have the price per container (pretty much fixed, regardless of the content), and the costs for ports, plus duties and taxes. When you have a container of chips, IT parts, the delivery costs per unit a close to zero.

    Btw, a funny fact. Somewhere between 2005 and 2010, the price for delivering a ship container from Europe to China was negative. Shipping companies would charge you nothing, and actually take some of the port costs on them.

  9. lpbbear wrote, “China was a major supplier of components well before Vista arrived on the scene”.

    Oh yes. My first IBM-compatible came in a box marked “made in Taiwan”. It was a PC-XT with an 8-bit processor. Darned thing was a toy compared to a modern PC but it still cost close to $1K for just a box.

  10. lpbbear says:

    “If you were paying any close attention, around that time China grew as manufacturer and exporter of computer parts, to grow way beyond Malasia, Singapore and the like.”

    I have been building systems since the early 90’s. China was a major supplier of components well before Vista arrived on the scene. Perhaps you should pay more attention yourself troll.

  11. dougman says:

    “After Coaching From Microsoft, NFL Announcers Have Gotten Very Good At Identifying Surface Tablets – After the NFL and Microsoft struck a five-year, $400 million deal to make the Surface Pro 3 the official tablet of the NFL, the league ran into a bit of a problem when a few network announcers couldn’t correctly identify the technology and called them iPads ”

    http://seattle.cbslocal.com/2014/10/13/report-microsoft-coaching-nfl-announcers-to-say-surface-not-ipad/

    http://www.businessinsider.com/nfl-announcers-surface-tablets-2014-10

    I bet they still get called “tablets” and /or “iPads” even after all this. So much for paying the NFL and name branding by M$.

  12. Deaf Spy wrote, “imagine what the price would be when an OEM orders a ship container of these. My guess is $3 – 3.5.”

    Imagine the cost of delivery… Can you deliver anything by courier for $5? The Chinese ship container-loads to Vancouver and distribute via courier from there. With IT it costs them nothing more to do that for consumers or businesses.

  13. oiaohm says:

    Deaf Spy there are all different classes of companies in china. Foxconn and many others does 100 unit runs. Reason why you can do this. Prototype volume is 100 units even for OEMs. Why 100 units so you can get a sample for consumer/product testing and venture capital hunting. Yes just because you want to order 10 000 you still have to have all the correct certifications and safety tests done in the right country before you can import large volume of lots of items.

    Companies like Foxconn will produce a 100 with the demand you pay for it. If you ask for a solo custom unit they are not that interested. The first 100 units of the raspberry pi from china found a stack of different issues causing the complete sections to be redesigned.

    Selling individual parts with PC computers get interesting. Shipping gets interesting when you compare parts vs assembled. If you take two shipping containers the same size and you pack 1 with full assembled desktop/server computers and same sized container with parts. Total number of computer fitted into the shipping container goes to the parts. Why can leave less airspace because parts don’t need operational cooling. Its all about shipping cost what way is best.

    A lot of people are of the mistaken idea that the entry point with China production is 1000 units plus. Think common sense here you need to test item. 1000 units is far too many 1 is far too few. 100 is nice as each failure is exactly 1 percent.

  14. Deaf Spy says:

    Pogson wrote: The last item I bought direct from China was a digital kitchen-scale so I can quantify my intake… It was $8 delivered to my door

    Right on spot, Mr. Pogson. Now imagine what the price would be when an OEM orders a ship container of these. My guess is $3 – 3.5. Mind you, it is an educated, well informed guess.

  15. Deaf Spy says:

    lpbbear: Prior to Vista … About the time Vista…

    Of course, the world is a static place. If you were paying any close attention, around that time China grew as manufacturer and exporter of computer parts, to grow way beyond Malasia, Singapore and the like.

    At the same time, the costs for retailers in the western part of the world raised. Selling individual parts becomes increasingly inefficient economy-wise.

    As Pogson wrote, he can buy cheap stuff directly from China, beating the prices of all local shops in Canada. If you go to China and order 100, you can get even better prices. Though most manufacturers there won’t notice you, until you speak volumes of 1K at least. OEMs order 10Ks.

    I am sorry that you business is going down the drain. The only dark force beyond your failure is your failure to stay competitive.

  16. lpbbear says:

    “Three words for you: economy of scale.”

    One word for you…….BULLSHIT!

    Prior to Vista I had no problem building systems that were competitive with the store bought versions. About the time Vista appeared….and began to tank in the marketplace due to it being utter crap I began noticing huge discounts appearing on the store bought systems. That has continued to today. I can’t tell you who is manipulating retail pricing but its obvious someone is and “economy of scale” has nothing to do with it.

  17. Deaf Spy wrote, “Three words for you: economy of scale.”

    It is certainly true that an OEM can buy components at a lower price than most/all consumers but it takes a pretty large discount to offset the cost of that other OS. I’ve been ordering stuff direct from China lately, and it’s no problem at all for me to obtain finished goods delivered to my door with a smile cheaper (by 50%) than the local supply-chain can deliver retail in Winnipeg. So, that argument is a bit weak. It’s almost certainly true back in China, but with freight and a couple of middle-men that advantage may be swamped.

    The last item I bought direct from China was a digital kitchen-scale so I can quantify my intake… It was $8 delivered to my door while a $5 drive into Winnipeg to buy a similar model for $16 was more than twice the price. I did have to wait a couple of weeks but that was no matter for me. The scale worked perfectly, although not with NiMH cells, and was very accurate and easy to use. So, does it matter at all that an OEM can get a 25% discount over a consumer?

  18. Bert wrote, “I am surprised by Lenovo’s answer. Over here in Europe, you can get all Lenovo business models without OS”.

    It sounds like they are being lead around by the nose, perhaps by M$. M$ loves arbitrary rules propping up monopoly.

  19. Deaf Spy says:

    Less so these days because since around the time of “Vista” the store bought models have dropped well below the cost of the actual parts inside making it impossible for small builders like myself to compete on final price.
    Three words for you: economy of scale.

  20. Bert says:

    I am surprised by Lenovo’s answer. Over here in Europe, you can get all Lenovo business models without OS, e.g. Lenovo Thinkpads, ThinkStation… These are about 50 Euro cheaper than the Windows-models.

  21. dougman says:

    “How desperate is Microsoft to get developers to write apps for Windows Phone? The company is willing to subsidize them up to $600,000 per app. With an estimated 70,000 apps available for Windows Phone, the platform lags well behind iPhone with an estimated 600,000 apps, and Android, with an estimated 400,000 apps. That’s a big problem for Microsoft, because apps sell phones.”

    “Canalys recommends that Microsoft help its OEMs hit mainstream price points for its products, for example by subsidizing touch panel production costs by $50 to $100 per unit, to kick-start the market.”

  22. lpbbear says:

    “Technically speaking, that is a flat-out lie, isn’t it, Robert? Are you seriously suggesting that Lenovo gets a kick-back from M$?”

    How would you know or not know?

    I don’t claim to know any of the above details but based on OEM pricing for hardware its pretty obvious there is some kind of kickbacks going on.

    I build systems for customers. Less so these days because since around the time of “Vista” the store bought models have dropped well below the cost of the actual parts inside making it impossible for small builders like myself to compete on final price. Since I can purchase components at cost from vendors its clear to me that someone is heavily subsidizing retail systems from companies like Lenovo, Dell, etc. The only party I can think of that would have any interest in doing that resides in Redmond.

  23. ram wrote, “Competitive in a free market commercial sense.”

    Competition is diverse. It can’t be pigeon-holed into one dimension. For instance, a customer may well prefer an “inferior product” in terms of price/performance because they speak the same language as the supplier. Masseratis may have absolutely wonderful price/performance for rich guys but I don’t even know how to go about buying one. I’ve never heard of any dealer around here. That’s not being very competitive in many ways. Same goes for iThingies. Apple doesn’t even try to sell in some markets yet many feel their performance is so superior to other products that it’s worth paying any price. I remember when we returned to Canada from Saudi Arabia. We lived in a part of Winnipeg where there was a wonderful local bakery. Their prices were pretty high but the product was exquisite and smelled fresh all the time. Their rye bread was absolutely perfect by me. They were not competitive in the usual “commercial” sense. They didn’t grow and dominate any market but they did what they did very well with lots of happy customers. This is one of the reasons many governments love GNU/Linux, because they don’t have to deal with global corporations who have stacked the deck. They get a fair price for a great product and keep the local economy vibrant. Many feel this stifles “competition” by stacking the deck against outfits like M$ but it sure stirs the local economy.

  24. ram says:

    ‘Perhaps ram meant price/performance when he wrote, “competitive”.’

    That is exactly what I meant! Competitive in a free market commercial sense.

  25. ram wrote, “Lenovo (and whatever they were called before that) has not been remotely competitive for years.”

    I don’t understand that statement. By all measures I know Lenovo is very competitive. They have the world’s largest local market back in China, they’ve developed the customer base IBM opened to them in business and they sell first-rate machines although a bit pricey. I don’t think Lenovo is much interested in the “low end”. The last place I worked got in 12 NIB Lenovo PCs with AMD64 dual-core CPUs, a 512MB hard drive and 2gB(?) RAM. They sucked with XP or “7” but were just rockets when I installed GNU/Linux on them. Except for their sticking with M$ and the difficulty of installing a second hard drive, the devices looked and acted as solid as the old IBM products. We had older PCs from several other OEMs but these were clearly top quality. I think we used them for about a year before I left and never had a single issue with the hardware and none with the GNU/Linux software either. I did look up the market price and they were nearly twice the price of the usual stuff schools had. Perhaps ram meant price/performance when he wrote, “competitive”. Folks who depend on IT may care less about the price and more about reliability in their decisions to buy. Lenovo did sell thousands of GNU/Linux PCs to India. They should do for the rest of the world. That’s my main complaint about Lenovo.

  26. dougman says:

    “Are you seriously suggesting that Lenovo gets a kick-back from M$?”

    M$ has been known for this shenanigans, as they even tell OEM’s how to advertise Windows. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/12600821/OEM%20Marketing%20Guide.pdf

    So it is no stretch of the imagination, that they pay peoples and companies to do their bidding. Take this list for example, each one you can find by searching online.

    – Paying companies to recommend Windows
    – Paying OEMs To make Windows phones
    – Paying developers to build apps
    – Paying the NFL to use its devices
    – Paying YouTube Users to promote Xbox
    – Paying for Wikipedia edits
    – Paying bloggers to promote IE
    – Paying governments to use Windows
    – Paying people to “post” favorable things on Reddit, for *reputation management*
    – Paying for fake positive reviews of it’s products
    – Faking consumer letters of support
    – Funding smearing seminars and campaigns
    – Paying industry groups to release studies and polls, that favor M$

  27. DrLoser wrote, “that is a flat-out lie, isn’t it, Robert?”

    No, it’s not. All OEMs that are “partners” of M$ sell M$’s OS bundled with PCs. If a PC sells for $100 or $200 more because the PC is bundled with that OS, the OEM gets a cut of that cost and the cost is hidden from the consumer and the retailer. Typically, it’s something like 50%. So, the more expensive the PC the easier it is for the OEM to hide the price of M$’s software and the consumer pays more. It’s the consumer that usually pays the OEM through the retailer.

    DrLoser wrote, “Aren’t you lucky that so few people are interested in Desktop Linux?”

    That question implies a flat-out lie. Many millions of people are interested in GNU/Linux and use it. Of the 2000 million or so folks using personal computers of all kinds, StatCounter sees ~1.5% of page-views from GNU/Linux. That could be 35million people, a lot. Few is not a proper word to describe such a number. It’s bigger than the largest city. It’s bigger than many countries. Many of those page-views are from schools where multiple people use the same PC so the number could be much larger.

  28. DrLoser says:

    Lenovo (and whatever they were called before that) has not been remotely competitive for years.

    Smoke dope much, ram?

    IBM first sold their PC peripherals business to Lenovo (including keyboards, which for some reason pisses me off) and then the entire desktop division.

    My memory is foggy too, but I seem to recall that they were still #4 or #5 in terms of volume on desktops at the time, and had been profitable since …

    … hmmm. Let me try to work out when the original IBM PC came out.

  29. DrLoser says:

    Lenovo may not see anything wrong with getting paid extra for selling a PC by splitting a fee for the OS with M$ but I do.

    Technically speaking, that is a flat-out lie, isn’t it, Robert? Are you seriously suggesting that Lenovo gets a kick-back from M$?

    Just as well you’re under the radar, then, because otherwise you’d be whacked, and whacked with perfect justification, with a great big ole lawsuit.

    Aren’t you lucky that so few people are interested in Desktop Linux? It’s the only thing that allows you to run your mouth off at random, without considering the consequences.

  30. ram says:

    IBM dumped that losing division for very good reasons. Lenovo (and whatever they were called before that) has not been remotely competitive for years.

  31. dougman says:

    Actually, M$ is slowly moving towards giving away its OS now and charging more for services, cloud, etc…in a few years the entire OS will be online and people will pay a annual subscription for it.

    Also, I see that the Surface devices put out by M$ are not doing to well.

    “Microsoft continues to see weak sales for its Surface Pro 3 tablet and is reportedly planning to cancel the product line since shipment performance has been far lower than expectations, according to sources from the upstream supply chain. Lacking a sufficient number of distribution partners, plus high prices, the first- and second-generation Surface tablets are estimated to have created losses of about US$1.7 billion, the sources noted.

    Sources believe sales of the Surface Pro 3 are unlikely to surpass one million units, adding that Microsoft is also not very aggressive about development of a next-generation Surface and is likely to terminate the product line.”

    …and what do we find moments later?

    50+ articles on how they are not dumping its device, for example: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/17560/20141009/surface-pro-not-being-shelved-microsoft-isnt-dumping-tablet-line.htm

    Of course, they would come out with saying this, they need to sell-off the existing stock..LOL

    Remember the hardware device Zune? M$ said the same crap about not killing of the product, but in the end that’s what they did.

    http://www.wired.com/2009/01/microsoft-zune/

    “On October 3, 2011, Microsoft announced the discontinuation of all Zune hardware, encouraging users to transition to Windows Phone. Later, the announcement was removed and a Zune Support Team member tweeted that the page was added to the website in error. Finally, despite previous denials, the original announcement of the Zune hardware’s discontinuation was restored to the Zune Support site.”

    Seems M$ suffers from bouts of mass confusion…hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

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