Friday, January 12, 2007

Crapware Free PC = $60 more?

Not Exactly.

CES Roundtable with Michael Dell

During the roundtable discussion with Michael Dell at the Consumer Electronics Show, the conversation foreseeably turned towards crapware.

Briefly, crapware refers to unwanted programs that come pre-loaded on your computer or laptop. Many consumers would prefer they have a choice at time of purchase as to what actually comes loaded on their PC.

In quite a few blogs across the net, authors are referring to a $60 amount for the OEM removal of crapware. So, I wanted to explain where that $60 figure came from, as I'm the one who stated it in the first place. And, after reading this post, check out the video of the entire event that Jeremiah posted, so you get the full context.

Michael asked what he referred to as a controversial question. He inquired about how much extra we'd be willing to pay, to get a system free from crapware.

So I answered $60. Why? Because over the past few years, $60 is a rough estimate of what I know a great many non-technically inclined or busy people have paid someone else to "clean up" their new PC. Yes, this is very unscientifically based on personal experience.

So, it roughly equates to a breakdown of time verses rate of pay for the tech that does the work.

An experienced tech tends to charge $30 to $35 per hour for this type of work. It usually takes them less than 2 hours to complete, and they don't always format the hard drive. Some may not even reinstall a clean version of Windows. They may just uninstall what's unnecessary using a variety of utilities for the task, then get on with securing the system and configuring it. Usually though, they'll at least delete the Windows directory and reinstall the OS.

Less experienced techs, technically inclined college kids.. etc charge less per hour, but usually take longer to complete the work. (...Yes...Yes, I know some of you are very smart and get the work done quickly and better than the "pro's." You can put your head down again and go back to sleep now... shhh... that's good... you need your sleep...)

They often opt to completely format the hard drive. Then, reinstall the operating system, applications, and reconfigure the system to the customers needs. This usually runs them 4 to 6 hours, at a rate of $10 to $15 per hour, barring unforeseen problems.

These are estimates based on personal knowledge of what local techs in NYC charge, and their methods and levels of experience. Also, through interaction with people I encounter casually and through business, I learn what they pay said techs. This doesn't include electronics retail chain based services, which charge a great deal more for the same, and in my opinion often less competent work.

Now you know where the $60 figure came from.

I just wish inaccurate sensationalist reporters and bloggers would stop blowing this figure out of proportion. For example, Justin Mann's irresponsible post title, "Dell says $60 to remove free software." Dell never said that in the way the title infers, and Justin never clarifies this detail. Here goes another sensationalist pushing his own agenda without checking the facts.

The real story is that Michael Dell jokingly, said "SOLD!" when I mentioned $60 in answer to his question. It was with good humor, and not financial intent. Sure, I think his company would accept it in a heartbeat if they could, but he WAS joking at the amount. He was obviously well aware it's a sensitive issue. Bash Dell for what they actually do wrong, there's enough of that going on. Leave the fallacious hysterics out of it. You just make all bloggers look bad.

Remember, the more facts we provide, the better the chance they may actually fix the issues we're addressing.

And just a thought. Does anyone really think Mr. Dell appreciates the timing of his question, let alone his own response, after the backlash of crapware blog topics that followed? I'm rather convinced he's long since gotten the message, we want the crapware gone, and we don't want to pay more to see it go.

Unfortunately, too many busy, lazy or technically disinclined people still add that $60 to their total cost of ownership, and would likely pay *some* amount up front to save themselves the time it takes to find a tech to do the work. Hell, many people pay $10 or more for the Windows CD, when they're already paying for the Windows license. But that's an issue for a different post.