Computer Industry

The sales prevention department.

That’s me, at least that’s what Nome and the guys call me. Actually we are all pretty good at sales prevention when it comes to preventing the sale of new PC systems. There are often alternatives to buying a new “retail” PC that give you better performance, quality and reliability.  That’s one huge difference between the way we relate to our customers and the way the employees in “big box” retail stores like Best Buy, Fry’s, Staples and Office Depot relate to their customers. The business model for these stores is based on merchandise sales. Over 90% of their revenue and all of their profits come from new product sales, less than 10% of revenue and none of their profits come from service.

With their orientation toward product sales, big box stores have little interest in providing real customer service. Even when they try, (like Best Buy’s “Geek Squad”) when it comes to computers they are woefully inept and ridiculously expensive (check out their ratings on Google). It isn’t because they aren’t good kids, they’re simply inexperienced. The high turnover in these entry level positions coupled with an understandable lack of interest by corporate management in providing real computer service renders their technicians ineffective. Computer service and problem solving is not their business, new product sales is.

Here at the Computer Factory our primary business is service, PC sales are secondary. Our revenue may be evenly split between product sales and service but we our profitability is based on how good a job we do in solving problems and providing answers. Certainly we can sell you a brand new notebook or desktop PC with Windows 7 or 10, copy your files over and give you a trade in value on your old PC. We can also repair, reformat or upgrade your old PC. We often find that repairing or upgrading your old PC is a more cost effective solution than buying a new one. We can add or replace a business or home desktop or notebook PC with a refurbished “corporate” PC of higher quality and performance than that of a new “retail” PC costing twice as much. 

We try not to let any useful computer go to waste. A notebook PC with a broken screen may not be worth fixing, but hook it up to a monitor, close the lid and plug in a mouse and keyboard and, voila, you have a perfectly usable wi-fi desktop PC for $100 dollars. Sometime,  just when money is a little tight, you may find that you need a computer for your school, home or business. Give us a chance to help, we do it every day.

Whether for home or business, our experience and flexibility make us the best place to come for solutions to any computing issues you may be having. While it is nearly always more cost effective to bring your problems in to our shop. For those things that must be done on site, our techs are the best. 

Please check out and comment on our new web site (

Are PCs going the way of the buggy whip?

Sure they are, but not today or tomorrow. Ten years from now we doubt that you’ll be able to find anything that looks much like today’s PCs anywhere in a business or home. Home users will lead the way. In the early days of the “computer age” only businesses could afford computers. That began to change in 1981 when IBM launched the “PC age” By the turn of the century virtually every home had a PC and today nearly 80% of homes also have at least one “smart phone.”

Today, well over 90% of home computer use is Internet based and 90% of “smart phone” use has nothing to do with “telephoning”.  Both devices are essentially internet access devices. The PC has a nice big screen and a comfortable I/O setup (mouse/ keyboard) but you can’t put it in your pocket and take it with you. The smart phone is highly portable but it has a dinky screen and pinchy little touch screen controls. If you could hook your smart phone to a keyboard, mouse and big screen monitor at home you probably could throw out your PC. It’s true that you have Windows on your PC and Android or Apple on your smart phone but that makes no difference if all your applications (word processor, spreadsheets, desktop publishing, photo editing etc) are available on the Internet. You won’t need a hard drive because the internet will store all your files. Even your home printer will operate with an Internet based driver. You won’t need a PC.

This technology is available today and early adopters are starting to use it. Operationally it’s much like using a Chromebook. The technology is not quite ready for us yet, the smart phone to desktop interface hardware needs some refinement and the on-line apps need to be expanded and improved but within three years this technology will be ready for the casual home user. Gamers, designers, animators, solids modelers, video and sound editors and other “power users” will still require local processing power but for most of us. No more PC.

Business users are another story. LAN (local area network) users like most businesses will be far slower to move to network computing. Their network servers work much faster and more efficiently than the Internet. They have a considerable investment in the applications software that runs their enterprise. Nearly 80% of business networks run on Windows 7. Windows XP runs nearly 10% and Windows 10 runs a distant third. Business users will continue to require PCs for growth and replacement. But now days, they don’t need “new” PCs.

While power users will always need the latest and greatest to do their jobs more efficiently, Home or business users have nothing to gain by switching to Windows 10 or buying “new” PCs. Upgrading or repairing older PCs or purchasing half-priced “refurbished” corporate trade-in PCs is by far a more cost effective option. “Refurbs” from The Computer Factory carry “new” (one year) warranties and are as powerful and capable as new PCs.

Here at The Computer Factory we will continue to build and customize new desktop and notebook PCs for any and all applications, but “refurb” Windows 7/10 notebook and desktops are by far our hottest selling PCs for business or home.

Who the hell goes to the Computer Factory?

It’s a great question so last month we decided to find out who our customers are. Do we cater to a certain demographic, is there such a thing as someone who “looks like a Computer Factory customer.” We have been around since 1995 and Nome made the observation that our business and home customers “do seem to be getting a bit older.” “Sure” I said “but that’s a good thing, it only means that our customers tend to stick with us over the years.” “That may be true” countered Nome, “but it’s probably not a good thing if your toughest competition is the “grim reaper.”  

One way to look at your customer base is by generation. Folks born before 1945 (the end of WW2) are members of the “Silent generation” or the “Greatest Generation.” That’s the generation that raised Nome, me and the “baby boomers.” We speak their language and fit like a glove with those two generations. Folks born between 1965 and 1981 are known as Generation X. Most business owners and working folks today are “GenXers.” We notice little difference between the “boomers” and “GenXers” and we get along just fine with them too. Demographic analysts describe “Millennials” as those born between 1981 and 2015. Early “Millennials” (1981-91) seem pretty much like the rest of us but those post 1991 “millennials” are a piece of work. “California Millennials.” under 25 years old are particularly scary. The rap on these folks is that they are selfish, lazy not too bright and virtually unemployable. They are victims of a “dumbed down” education system that elevates social consciousness and political correctness over real learning like science and history. It ridicules success, competition, work ethic and traditional values. These millennials grew up in pay-for- play Shwartenegger/Brown California where everyone is some kind of victim that needs government  help. Some curmudgeons live in the hope that most “Millennials” will tumble of a cliff or blunder into traffic while glued to their smart  phones long before they can become a “voting bloc” lethal to America.

Fortunately there are plenty of exceptions to the “Millennial” stereotype. We all know many bright, interactive hard working “Millenials” who properly respect themselves and others. Our senior technician Julio Sarmiento’s children, Daisy and Rodrigo and our 21 year old technician Derek stand out as examples. The key to countering the negative influences and leadership vacuum provided by schools, governments and the Internet seems to be good parenting. “Millenials” with parents who provide leadership seem to do well. Parents who allow society to set the norms for their children’s behavior will put their children at risk.

So Nome was right. Our customers are getting older. Americans are becoming far more comfortable dealing with technology than people, especially younger Americans. We don’t trust people so much any more. We shop for products anonymously on the Internet and when we have questions or problems we “Google” them. Sometimes we find the answers we need and sometimes we don’t. “Who the hell goes to the Computer Factory?” Anyone who has a computer question or problem that can’t find an answer.

Today’s home and business computers.

There are fundamental differences between the usage patterns of home and business PC users. Those patterns have continued to diverge as home users abandon “stand alone” applications for “the cloud” while businesses hang on to their business specific, local applications.

Business PC users have “off line” (stand alone) activities that require their PCs to have local processing power. Programs for accounting, invoicing, contact management, word processing, forms and desktop publication etc are typically installed and executed on PC workstations or on LAN (local area network) connected PC servers. Business workstations typically store data files locally on hard drives. Some may also use “the cloud” for data back-up and to access “cloud” applications and data bases.

Home PC users have largely abandoned “stand alone” applications. Most home and school applications are on the WWW. Communication, banking, taxes, genealogy, research, surfing and even data storage are increasingly “cloud” based. Most users still store pictures and files on their local hard drives and most home users have a printer, but for the most part our home PCs are basically nothing more than tablets or smart phones with a big screen, keyboard and mouse.

When a PC is being used on the Internet it is using only a fraction of its memory and CPU power. The speed of the Internet connection determines the how fast the computer responds no matter how much RAM or how fast the CPU.  A ten year old Pentium IV accesses the Internet just as fast as a $2000 dollar “super gamer” PC.  

The bottom line for most home users and many business users is that buying a new computer is a waste of money.  

Unless you have a genuine need for a high end ($1200-$2000), stand-alone PC for applications like animation, video and audio transcription, solids modeling or high-end gaming, a refurbished PC will do the same job for half the cost. The i3 and i5 Dell and HP desk-top and notebook PCs that fill the retail shelves in the big box stores are technically capable of performing normal home and business applications but they are cheaply made and come with Windows10 Home. By contrast, our corporate refurbs are more robust, higher in quality and reliability and come with your choice of Windows 7 or 10 Professional. We give the same full-year warranty on these refurbs that you get on any new retail PC. A distinct advantage of our “refurbs” over retail PCs is that our refurbs have none of the bloatware (ads, pop-ups, links and trial programs), that cram retail PCs. Ours have only the things you need and they are free (Office suite and anti-virus software). Another important difference is that our warranty, repair and technical services are local and not located in some low-rent country on the other side of the planet.

So if you need to add or replace a PC or workstation for your home or business, think about stopping in either before or after you join the bottom feeders at Fry’s, Best Buy or Costco. We have solid PCs for any need starting at under $200 and ranging up to “Katie bar the Door” and we won’t let you make a mistake, Try us you’ll like us.