Alternatives to the W3C

Tyler Baker tyler at
Thu Jan 20 06:24:46 GMT 2000

Eric Bohlman wrote:

> On Wed, 19 Jan 2000, Tyler Baker wrote:
> > P.S. - For the E-Commerce folks, if your users cannot afford to upgrade their 486 to a
> > modern 500 dollar computer so they can run the latest version of Navigator or IE, the
> > chances are they are not gonna spend a lot of money online anyways because the don't even
> > have enough money to upgrade their ancient computer.
> You're guilty of projecting geek values onto the public at large.  If a
> geek doesn't have the latest and greatest computer system, the reason is
> likely to be that he doesn't have the cash to upgrade.  But non-geeks
> generally anticipate computer upgrades with trepidation rather than
> eagerness.  Only a small percentage of the population regards upgrading as
> an enjoyable activity.  There are plenty of people who would be willing to
> spend $1000 on-line for things they really wanted, but *not* to spend it
> on upgrading their system.

$1000? You don't need to spend an entire grand to get a great computer with monitor. You need
to spend around five hundred dollars. Yah you can spend $3,000 on a PC if you really wanted to.
$500 for a computer system is about what a lot of people spend on TV's and many people have two
or even three in a household. Also, add on the 30 dollars a month or more for online service as
well as some of the "Free PC" offers that are around, and it basicly means that if you can
afford to be online, then you can at least afford a modern computer.

> If you have a product with high yuppie appeal that you want to sell
> online, the likely end-user configuration even rhymes: "AOL and
> Packard-Bell!"  That's a configuration that *no* self-respecting computer
> geek would be caught dead with.  But as GM learned painfully in the 70s
> and 80s, the kinds of cars the market wants to drive aren't necessarily
> the same things GM's executives and engineers want to drive.

Packard-Bell is pretty much out of business these days and anyone who had to buy one of those
death machines usually ended having to buy another entire system shortly thereafter.
Nevertheless, your point makes no sense because GM screwed up in the 70's and 80's by not
innovating, but instead giving the American public a consistently mediocre lineup of
automobiles with catchy marketing slogans. Eventually, people got sick of the mediocrity of
Detroit and starting purchasing the more expensive but quality merchandise coming out of Japan.

> Note also that computers are much cheaper in the US than in the rest of
> the world (as in World Wide Web) and also that nearly all advertised
> computer prices in the US include a rebate that requires signing a
> three-year contract with a particular ISP.

Hey I bought an E-Machine Celeron 300 for under $500 and that was over a year ago. In the rest
of the world, internet connectivity is much more expensive than hardware will ever be.

> So far I've been talking about the upgrade situation for home users, but
> for businesses it's even worse.  If a business has 500 computers,
> upgrading them all is going to be *extremely* expensive even if the
> computers themselves are free.  The only way you can hope to have an
> all-bleeding-edge user base is to exclusively target startups and
> first-time computer buyers.  And even then, you can't count on anything
> except the computer itself.  For example, even if I could afford DSL, the
> only way I could get it would be to move to a neighborhood where my rent
> would at least double.  And I don't live in the sticks either.

This is all true, but unless the software industry creates new software which does new things
which may require an upgrade, then technology remains stagnant forever. My point was that it is
lame for people to never do anything interesting in computing because of their fears about the
lowest common denominator. I think you should look for middle ground and go for that.
Otherwise, you get sad situations where business keep doing patch-up jobs in IT that end up in
the long run costing much more than a complete upgrade. Hell, the world would not of spent a
trillion or so dollars on the Y2K bug if businesses did not treat their computing systems like
they are an old automobile that costs more to fix up than buying a new one.

> I really think we're about to reach the point, if we haven't already
> reached it, where the majority of computer users are going to start asking
> "what *new* things do I get in return for upgrading my system, and how
> much are they worth to me."  They're going to start rebelling at the idea
> of upgrading simply to be able to keep doing what they're already doing or
> to simply get shinier chrome on their applications.

Well that is true as long as us programmers keep producing boring software which is just a
clone or upgrade of a competitor's product. Yes there is no reason to even upgrade if you never
see anything but spreadsheets, word processors, and web browsers come out of the software
industry in the next 20 years. If that ends up being the case, then the software industry (not
the internet content industry) is totally dead, as would any industry that sits on their butt
and does nothing more interesting than product upgrades.

All that I was saying is that I thought that Dave was doing a good thing by trying new things
with web interfaces and that was about it.


xml-dev: A list for W3C XML Developers. To post, mailto:xml-dev at
Archived as: or CD-ROM/ISBN 981-02-3594-1
Please note: New list subscriptions now closed in preparation for transfer to OASIS.

More information about the Xml-dev mailing list