We’ve Always Been Price-Gouged on Hardware – The Net Is the Last Neutral Zone

I’ve built computers since I was a kid. Organizations and enterprise users from the beginning of time have disrespected technology, so when fancy home computers hit the market in the 80’s, all you ever had to buy was a hard drive and other storage media.

All these people care about is the data, so the motherboards, disk drives, memory cards, video cards, sound cards, network adapters, CPU’s, cases, power supplies, monitors, and everything else was just garbage to be abandoned.

The general public doesn’t respect tech much either, so the tech industry loves price-gouging everyone for everything. This is how SaaS (Software as a Service) and HaaS (Hardware as a Service) became so popular – data is being shared and given away by the public like it’s candy.

And that candy is harvested by the enterprise users, who to this day are still following the same protocols from the 80’s.

Having built quite a few computers, I find I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to computer hardware. Being broke and going mobile, I had to depend on laptops and smaller to stay productive online while on the road. I’m very close to being able to afford to build my first desktop in almost a decade, and nothing’s changed from the last time I did it.

In the meantime, I bought a low-end Toshiba laptop (only my second laptop purchase in my life), and loaded up Smite last night to see what it can do out the box. We lost and it crashed – this machine wasn’t gaming-capable.

I also have a pay-as-you-go Android and a bricked iPhone 5s.

In shopping for computer parts over the decades, I know what to look for and just have to check the numbers vs the price, and I’ve been doing that my whole life so its second nature. What I’m now pondering after having been immersed in banking operations, the media, and online content marketing for so long is why I always have to pay for speed.

Take CPU’s for example – I understand that it takes a lot of R&D to build a chip, but at the same time, why do both Intel and AMD (and all the other chipmakers) release a dozen different speeds in each architecture and keep jacking the price up for speed?

I understand why all the counterarguments would make sense to implement an i3, i5, i7 model to have a chipset for mobile, consumer desktop, and server applications, but why are there always 12 different versions of each at a different price point?

Before you answer that question, look at how that business model was applied to create Smite. I play Smite because I paid $50 to unlock all gods during the beta. I’ve even played a couple alphas where developers just need to populate their world with extras to test use cases.

I get what goes into the development cycles – how could I not? It’s all out in public domain.

So in the video game industry, I’m now funding software development, and I actually understand that. I’m ok with that.

What I’m not ok with is having to pay for speed. Why is performance directly associated with price?

Any chip costs the same to physically manufacture. They’re just pushing out a bunch of betas to bring in money, and there’s really no reason to put financial barriers to determine who has access to what speeds.

I understand the underlying socioeconomic factors, the macro- and microeconomics at work. I just still don’t get it. Why are we like that?

In order to find that answer, I keep an eye on the debate over net neutrality, because the financial balance between content creators and providers is key to understanding where this imaginary social contract is in the imaginary math of economics.

There’s only so much speed we can afford to pay for on either end before too much money is drained from the working class and spread amongst the 1337.

Brian Penny Beard Mohawk Versability WhistleblowerBrian Penny is a former business analyst and operations manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work has appeared in High Times, Huffington Post, The Street, Hardcore Droid, and Fast Company.


Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer.

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