Some people are of the opinion that computers are unrealistically cheap and have been for years, and we're seeing the results via OEMs considering leaving the market. This can actually be a good thing, even though prices rise. I'm thinking of the RAM market "crash" of 2001 where weaker vendors with lower quality products left a flooded market. Of course, price fixing via cartel was involved here, too, so it's not the purest example.
Prices are cheap because of everyone jumping on China and others to capitalize on slave labor, allowing them to maintain or lower prices but increase profit ( like Microsoft removing the MPEG decoders from Windows and still charging the same price and pocketing the difference ). This business model proves P.T. Barnum right, there is truly a sucker born every minute. But they are near absolute bottom now because at some point the device costs more to stock, package, advertise and ship than the customer actually pays in cash.
Long before we even had this slave labor there was a clear linear or even exponential rise in consumer value over time, mostly due to Moore's law for microprocessors and its relations with HDD density and RAM speed and other things ( while Windows mostly crept forward at a snail's pace ). Pretty much for two and half unbroken decades an average system was like $2000 USA and that price first bought a PC1, then an XT, then an AT, etc right up into the Pentium 4 era. Later they would throw in the printer or something, but the expense was very consistent while the power dramatically increased. As the east opened up and their regimes figured out they could pacify their restless natives by offering them up as minimum wage workers ( but at early 20th century standards ) the race to the bottom quickly began with all of our "patriotic" companies hiring and expanding over there and laying off over here. This IMHO caused the downward price spiral of the past 5 years as they competed with each other but still pocketing most of the difference, which is why we still see huge profitably of these companies in an economy that is in the toilet. If China ever went on strike, and it held for a quarter or two, most of the entire western economies would simply collapse.
But this has really nothing to do now with the current price spike since October from Windows 8
however. This I believe is directly from Microsoft still squeezing all their captive monopoly channels for all their worth, and simultaneously urging them to add in touchscreens ( which were at the very least in short supply ) to justify the increase. It is a bit of a Hail Mary pass if you ask me, as the consumers are now getting picky and more frugal. So this is another cash-grab, they are "getting it while the going's good". The problem with wishing for and justifying higher prices ( see Thurrott ) is that the corporate bean counters will never do anything except what is easy, what adds only to profit, and what pleases Wall Street or shareholders. Since their goals are "profitably" and "growth" rather than "quality" or "satisfaction", we know what we can expect. Consumer value and quality are not even on the list anymore. The higher price difference does not go to hire local jobs here or to purchase better parts, in fact they are still only going to buy the cheapest available. It is simply tweaking the spreadsheet to bump of the profit side of the ledger, and there are only a couple of ways to do that, and only the easy ones are on their agenda, and most importantly they are mostly used up now ( well unless factories start going up in rural Africa, and we can literally get back to where we started with slave labor ).
We once had what we called the DotCom bubble. We are now in the end-stages of the computer and related bubble, or better yet: the "slave labor prolonged computer and related bubble", and it is going to blow. The companies are just sucking in every drop of cash they can, while they can. Presently there are many premium items being bought for obscene prices, like $800 cellphones, but they are disguised in subsidy and this is the only way it could still happen in the current economy. The carriers buy them by the boatload and then must bleed the cash from somewhere, and here in the USA we see it play out firsthand where only a decade ago a phone bill was $20 a month ( so was cable ) but now people see $100 or more. This model will also collapse as waves of dirt cheap cellphones get shipped and eventually the phony subsidy model gets exposed to Joe Schmo as the scam that it is and he just stops playing ( Microsoft was way late to this scam ). This phony "subsidy" model ( like a "car lease" or home "rent to own" ) which allows devices to be sold at great profit also extends to corporate who also buy boatloads of computers and related devices at ridiculous prices ( considering the bulk ) and if they ever get frugal ( since they pass it along disguised in their products ), every company that drinks at the corporate trough will implode. This will occur precisely because the corporate directors and bean-counters have simply run out of easy ways to boost profit while keeping expenses the same or lower. Watch for layoffs and cut employee benefits as the leading indicator, and ignore the Wall Street talking heads who always cheer these moves. I expect a chain-reaction and who knows, maybe even a depression similar to the 1930's or 1890's or 1870's.
Microsoft's cloud Plan A
is their only idea to survive by the coming apocalypse, and want to do so by plugging themselves directly into the bank accounts of the sheeple to make periodic withdrawals while the "automatic updates" shift some very minor changes down to their device ( in itself a joke, practically a placebo, add some templates and clipart to Office and tweak a few obvious things so the sheeple says "wow, what a great free update" to justify this phony model ). In short, do the least effort possible to continually get paid. Wait until the sheeple catch on.
So to summarize, and to paraphrase Thurrott, "the lower prices are indeed unrealistic", but clearly NOT for the reasons he thinks. In his shallow manner of thinking prices will simply rise and everyone is happy ( except for the careful consumer of course ). But what will actually happen is that the lumbering behemoth Wall Street darlings will once again just pocket the difference. Then we end up with the absolute worse of all worlds - slave labor building cheap devices sold for high prices and the cash goes straight into the profit column of those lumbering behemoths. I'd say 3 to 5 years tops and the DJIA is at 8000 again. Maybe sooner. The cash flushed companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft are gonna need it ( as an aside, just imagine if Microsoft had bought Yahoo for $45 billion, their little party would now be over ).