John Chamberlain
Developer Diary
 Developer Diary · You Heard It Here First · Wednesday 7 January 2004
Computer Stores Try Consumer Electronics
I entered CompUSA in December and was surpised to see dozens of large-screen TVs, DVDs and other living room fair. Disatisfied with the slow growth in the saturated computer market large retailers are trying to achieve sales growth by switching to consumer electronics. There were playing the "The Lion King", a movie I detest, on all hundred screens. I could not move without Simba following after me. A sales thing approached me drooling. I guess he thought I might be a potential commission. I asked him a technical question about the screens. He said, "They sure are nice big screens aren't they?" That was about the extent of his technical knowledge.

Gone are their old wide selection of computer accessories and PC desktop systems have been cut back to half a dozen demos or so. If you are going to CompUSA to buy a computer your choices are dwindling, but you can buy a huge $5,000 plasma screen TV. CompUSA may find out that not only do people not go to computer stores to buy TVs but that if there are no computers in the store they won't buy them either. You have to wonder about the logic behind going into a business they know nothing about and alienating the game-playing geeks who used to be their core customers. It reminds of when Compaq had the brilliant idea of losing money by trying to make the infamous PC-TV.

And it's not just CompUSA. Gateway is doing the same thing in their stores only more. Guess what you can now buy from Dell? That's right, more plasma TVs. Maybe my grocery store will start carrying them too. My mailman (oop, sorry, letter carrier) will be banging on my door. "Want to buy a large screen TV, Chamberlain? I know you're in there! Buy a TV or I might lose some of your mail."

I do not own a TV large or small and have no plans to introduce the evil eye into my home. Yet the herd of shopkeeper lemmings has decided 2004 is the year of the large screen TV. Maybe it will be the year CompUSA goes out of business.

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