We are obsessed with change - how Intel is going to be trounced by AMD, how Linux is going to oust Windows and who is going to be the next managing director of Wong Inc.
Mostly it's banal, but obsessed we are, and why not? Change is fundamental to the computer industry - without it we would still be using 8088 processors and 360Kb, 5.25in floppy disks.
But one change I've not heard mentioned is the social one - people no longer edge away from you at parties when you tell them you work in computers. Nowadays, you mention it and instantly people form an orderly queue, each preparing to ask 'so what kind of PC should I buy?' or 'did they really not put a floppy disk in the iMac?'
For me this change is represented by my mate Dave. He is 'normal' - that is, he doesn't care a jot about computers, it's just that he's decided that his kids are big enough to benefit from a PC, so he wants to buy one.
I was his first port of call and, after explaining that I don't sell computers, we sat down and chatted about what he wanted.
We went through the usual hoops - memory, processors, DVD not CD-Rom - all the stuff you'd expect, and then he stumped me (we always play cricket when we talk about computers), he asked me about payment.
Dave wants to get the machine on a financial deal - interest free credit or some such - and I was completely at a loss about what to suggest.
I thought for a while and pointed him in the direction of PC World (where he had already planned to go to) and promptly dried up.
It's a problem, and it's a problem that you lot out there in the industry aren't really addressing.
See, Dave is a computer novice - he doesn't read computer magazines or that kind of stuff, he just wants to buy a PC on some sort of financial package. The channel has grown up selling to other computer types and has never taken the non-computer punter seriously, but the non-computer punter is where the next big push is coming from.
And what is the computer industry doing to talk to my mate Dave? Nothing. PC World - bless it - is just one outlet, but I bet you lot could do him a better deal with better advice and support - but you can't get to Dave.
You don't sell to him off the pages of the magazines he reads, you don't boast about interest free credit deals you provide, you don't have shops for him to drift into and - fundamentally - you don't get his money. If the channel wants to tap into the non-computer punter market, it isn't going to be about fastest processors or even cheapest deals - its about making it easy to buy.
The market is changing - nothing new in that - but it's now being changed by the people coming into it, not the technology. If resellers want to be a part of it , they are going to have to find another way to talk to them.
Chris Long is a freelance IT journalist.
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