Going to Best Buy, Circuit City, or even Target; a plethora of machines from
manufacturers like Dell and HP assault the eyes. Many of these Vista
machines have impressive muscle for modest prices. Take HP -- the average
sale price (ASP) of a notebook with 14.1-inch display, 2GHz processor, 4GB of
RAM and a 320GB hard drive is $699. That kind of machine can not
only replace a desktop, but also meet most users’ multimedia needs and even
handle some less graphically intensive gaming.
Interestingly, prices seem to have hit
a sweet spot and are quite low, though not moving up or down. Stephen
Baker, NPD's vice president of industry analysis, who yielded the HP ASP information
had this to say of the trend, "We aren't seeing any particularly
substantive moves down in price on the Windows side, either in desktops or
While obviously it’s comparing apples and oranges, and the products appeal to
different markets, it’s interesting to look at how Mac prices have changed
versus PC prices. Macs have gone from an average price of $1,432 and
$1,574, for desktops and laptops respectively in June '06 to $1,543 and $1,515
respectively in June '08. While much lower to start, PCs are now even
lower in average sale price. The average
PC notebook went from $877 to $700, while the average desktop dipped just
barely from $559 to $550.
Vista PCs have reached a sweet point with pricing that is appealing not just to
the high end crowd, but to the masses. And while prices are staying
constant, hardware features are increasing, which is good for the
consumer. As Mr. Baker puts it, "Of course there is feature
creep—there always is."
Another trend along these lines is the push to support 64-bit Vista.
While numbers are still small, HP is leading the way, and its strong sales are
certainly making an impact in spreading 64-bit. DailyTech went
into this trend in more detail. Mr. Baker alludes to this stating,
"Forty-eight percent of June Windows notebooks are 3GB systems. But
4GB RAM Windows notebook systems are 11.6 percent of sales in June, up from
nothing [at the] beginning of [the] year."
So what exactly do the latest NPD figures on Windows PCs show? It can be
interpreted in many ways, but one major observation is that Windows PCs are
clearly the champion at lower prices. It also shows that a full featured
machine can be found for a very reasonable price. This is good news for
many -- and even better news when you consider holiday sales may momentarily
sink prices even further.