First, thanks to all those who answered our questionnaire.
Next, what did we find? What we found wasn’t something that spitting out a few percentages on a few choices would reveal.
When we do these kinds of surveys, we don’t expect nor do we get statistically valid polling numbers. Instead, we see if there are strong general trends or inclinations from those who respond.
This is why we normally ask for comments to get more of a picture that a number of choices wouldn’t provide. For instance, if you’re working on an offshore oil rig or in an Albertan oil boom town, you have a much more pleasant view of the world than most of us, as do those who just got out of school, have a job, and have some real spending money for the first time. People worry a lot less about gas prices when they walk to work or have a company car. On the other hand, if you’re very gloomy, there’s a big difference between being gloomy because of fear and being gloomy because you just lost your job. Why you answer the way you did is often more important than the what, and that was really the case here.
That being said, we did see some general trends:
1) People aren’t too worried yet The overall averages were lower than neutral, but not by a lot. On the whole, those who responded have not been forced to make significant changes to their lifestyle. There are certainly a decent percentage of those who have, but they have almost always had personal circumstances which left them extravulnerable to events like big oil price hikes.
2) People are more worried about the future and that is affecting their buying behavior Even those who aren’t worried about themselves at the moment are beginning to cut back on the frills in their life, and that includes computer-related purchases. That’s the bad news. The good news is they’re cutting back, not cutting out. Pretty much only those who have already taken some serious shots to the wallet have already cut out purchases, but more are concerned they may end up in the same boat.
3) No optimism, but no panicking, either There’s practically no belief that the near-future is going to be a good deal better than it is today. On the other hand, the only people panicking are those who have very real reasons to feel that way. On the whole, people think the near-future for them will be the same or a bit worse; they don’t think the world is going to hell.
4) It’s not just USAers While the averages for USAers are a bit gloomier than those for the world as a whole, there’s not much difference, and most of that difference is due to some downright cheerful Albertan Canadians assisted by a few oil-enriched Norwegians. Take them out of the picture, and the picture is about the same, slightly sour.
5) Economy or not, people are less than hot to trot, anyway A pretty sizable proportion (>20%) of those answering indicated that they just weren’t in the market for new equipment anyway. This wasn’t just a rationalization either, those who weren’t interested in buying indicated better personal circumstances than the average.
When you read through the comments (and we post a lot of them tomorrow), you don’t get a sense of any economic tidal wave swamping everyone. Rather, you have a clump of individuals who, outside a certain degree of spending caution, are reacting to their own specific individual circumstances.
However, you also get the sense that when it comes to spending money, computers are usually not a high priority. People will upgrade rather than replace, spend less on the upgrade, or pass altogether without too much heartbreak.
If the enthusiasts think that way, imagine what the rest of the world thinks. I think the tech sector is going to be in for a rougher time than the economy in general. I really think Intel is due for a shock with its initial, expensive Nehalems.
AMD? Well, unit sales might pick up a bit, but AMD doesn’t have a unit sales problem; it has a selling price problem, and it’s hard to see how they can be in position to try to repeat the 4850/4870 comeback with CPU until sometime next year.