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Wal-Mart to Offer Components for DIY Computers

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the well-thats-kinda-neat dept.

Hardware 434

FearTheFrail writes "Reuters reports that Wal-Mart is preparing to put "build your own computer counters" in 1200 of its 3200 stores, with plans to do so in at least 1400 by the end of the year. Maybe this will bring on an influx of new hardware enthusiasts, along with plenty of horror stories about attempted computer assembly. Do you think this will have an effect on the OEM parts market? And what about the operating systems to be offered? Will Wal-Mart shoppers migrate to Linux in order to save a hundred bucks or more, or will they even have the chance?"

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434 comments

I hope prices drop! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15257893)

Could Wal-Mart as a hardware vendor significantly reduce hardware prices, or is that unlikely?

Re:I hope prices drop! (-1, Troll)

pl1ght (836951) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257983)

I look at most of the walmart shoppers and i think....i cant even begin to imagine them trying to build their own computer. I wont even go into a Walmart unless it is absolutely necessary because the stench of poor people is so overwhelming.

Re:I hope prices drop! (0, Troll)

9mm Censor (705379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258024)

I find the stench of afluent american swine revolting as well. Just because people are poor doesn't mean people smell.

Re:I hope prices drop! (3, Insightful)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258091)

And on that same note...

Just because someone shops at WalMart, doesn't mean they're poor.

For some disposable items, such as baby formula & diapers, the WalMart brand is every bit as good as name brand items, costing nearly twice as much.

MOD THE TROLL THE FUCK UP!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15258170)

MOD THE TROLL THE FUCK UP!!!

Re:I hope prices drop! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15258044)

Could Wal-Mart as a hardware vendor significantly reduce hardware prices, or is that unlikely?

It will reduce quality, but keep up the prices. A win-win situation for everyone*.

* Except for the poor sods known as customers.

Oh no (5, Funny)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257911)

I can see it now:
Customer - "The computer memory won't upgrade."

Walmart - "What was the problem?"

Customer - "I put it inside the CDROM drive and didn't get any more hard drive space."

Walmart - "Alrighty then."

Re:Oh no (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257928)

So nothings going to change.

Re:Oh no (3, Insightful)

July 21, 2006 (968634) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257941)

The Walmart employee making minimum wage with no health care or retirement plan would have actually said, "Sounds like you followed the directions precisely. Must be defective. Take it up with the manufacturer."

Meanwhile at Slashbot Central (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15257972)

I can see it now:

Slashbot poster - "The 'All uSerS aRe 1diotz' humour paradigm won't upgrade."

Slashbot #2 - "What was the problem?"

Slashbot poster - "I put it inside the Slashdot and didn't get any more good karma."

Slashbot #2 - "Alrighty then."

* Slashbot #2 summons The Hive to spend some mod-points *

Re:Meanwhile at Slashbot Central (1)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258050)

Every geek has a tale or two about a clueless user, who thought they knew what they were doing, when they really didn't understand the problem they were trying to solve. Some people really are that clueless, and a joke doesn't mean that I think most users don't know the difference between RAM and hard drive memory.

  When was the last time you laughed about someone who got their computer upgrade right perfectly on the first try. Most people who tinker with computers have been in the situation where they thought they had the right part, only to find out a standard had changed, or a motherboard didn't support a particular CPU.

  I'm sorry that you've lost touch with the users, and feel better by "protecting" them from obvious jokes. Walmart employees are going to have plenty of interesting jokes to tell. Wouldn't you laugh if someone tried to return a drier element because it didn't fit their bread toaster?

reminds me (4, Funny)

xmodem_and_rommon (884879) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258017)

I have a friend who will remain anonyous (oh, but he reads slashdot) who tried to put together his own omputer one time.

I told him to wait till I got there, but no, he had to "get started" on it

When I got there, I found the motherboard screwed to the side of the case. As in, he hadn't screwed down the little "riser" things you put in first. When I pointed out to him that his whole computer would exploode in a glorius display of sparks the second he applied power, he stated incredulously, "i wondered what those were for"

I expect that telling everyday people they can build their own computer will get a lot of idiots who just want to save a few bucks trying it, and making all kinds of mistakes which, to the uninformed seem perfectly logical.

Re:reminds me (3, Interesting)

billcopc (196330) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258199)

I used to love that kind of idiot. When I was working retail, there was a 30$ assembly charge for any PC, big or small. A lot of the white-trash movie-copying crowd were so cheap they'd take their 199$ PC in parts and build it themselves. A lot of them came back the next day with an improperly mounted and very dead board. I had one guy who left the CPU fan unplugged "because it was too noisy", then accused me of selling him an overclocked CPU "because only overclocked chips overheat". I took his invoice, wrote "CPU improperly installed by user" in big red letters, kindly dialed Intel's customer service and handed him the phone.

I think Walmart should stay the hell away from computers. They've already destroyed countless suppliers in other markets, that were much stronger business than any asian budget-brand PC supplier. Hell, most of those companies can't even afford basic quality control practices.

Re:Oh no (5, Funny)

foundme (897346) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258018)

Well, I think most joe users are sick of jokes like this. Whenever something goes wrong, it's always, always the users' fault!

Why can't companies make more user-friendly products, so if you do put a memory module into the CDROM, it will install it for you, and spit out the old stick if there isn't enough room.

Re:Oh no opener (2, Funny)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258074)

"so if you do put a memory module into the CDROM, it will install it for you, and spit out the old stick if there isn't enough room."

They already make it able to hold your coffee, you can't expect miracles you know.

Your joke had me laughing louder than I should in an office, even though I'm done work for today.

DIY huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15257913)

Does it come with a soldering iron or were they figuring on wire-wrap?

Yeah WalMart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15257918)

If WalMart is good at one thing it's squeezing its vendors on cost.
If a OS vendor can reduce their costs below what MSFT wants, it's a pretty sure thing that even if MSFT is bundled there, Microsoft won't be getting any profit from there.

How odd... (5, Funny)

penguinstorm (575341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257919)

For years, we shipped assembly off shore to factories where people would work for 20 cents an hour. From these economic theory, Wal-Mart was born.

Now, they're shipping the labour back here.

Perhaps in future, Wal-Mart will offer sew-it-yourself clothing as well? They could market it as a sweat shop tourist attraction!

Re:How odd... (3, Funny)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257962)

Wal-Mart already sells fabric, sewing machines, and patterns.

I don't believe they have any sweatshop-related marketing for them, though.

Re:How odd... (4, Insightful)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258043)

You might want to watch 'the high cost, of the low price of Walmart'. It is a very insightful and educating look at walmarts practices.

fabric departments... (2, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258065)

Perhaps in future, Wal-Mart will offer sew-it-yourself clothing as well?

Many years ago, when I was growing up, lots of Wal-Mart-like department stores had extensive fabric departments...

More DIY plans to follow soon (5, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257920)

I wish Walmart would start selling self-assembled microwaves for $10. Talk about a quick way to clear out some of the genetic driftwood in this country.

Re:More DIY plans to follow soon (1)

no_pets (881013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257984)

Okay, I realize you are being funny but your comment made me think of something that, although slightly humorous could actually have a ring of truth to it.

Wal-Mart took the middle-man (distributors) out of the equation by having their own distribution centers. So, perhaps, now the middle-men are the manufacturers so Wal-Mart begins to just sell parts in order to cut manufacturers out of the equation.

Let's just hope it doesn't start including microwaves as you mentioned.

Price (1)

Aphex Junkie (633436) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257922)

Is this really going to be cheaper than stuff like the eMachines products they sell?

Re:Price (1)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258021)

Probably not, but it will be nice in smaller towns like where I work. Right now, if I need a component, I either get it at Staples (Assuming they even have it, and it's not way overpriced), or I mail order it. Having a small section at WalMart with the components would be great here.

It will have an impact... (-1, Flamebait)

NineNine (235196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257925)

The absolute, bottom-line Chinese component manufacturers will somehow make even cheaper and shoddier stuff, because that's what Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart's customers demand. Maybe we'll start to see hard-drives with no warranties at all, and power supplies that catch on fire after 20 hours of use.

In all honesty, I don't think that it'll have any impact on the market. The bottom-feeders that shop at Wal-Mart are exactly that: bottom-feeders. The computers that they previously would have purchased pre-assembled were all just loss-leaders, anyway. The same bottom-line manufacturers willing to make $1 per PC will be doing the same thing, but will instead be shipping the parts before going through the final screwdriver-assembly phase of manufacturing.

Re:It will have an impact... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15258102)

"The absolute, bottom-line Chinese component manufacturers will somehow make even cheaper and shoddier stuff, because that's what Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart's customers demand."

I agree Walmart has a piece of shit attitude and has run US companies into bankruptcy when they shift to cheaper mainland China products, but not all their stuff is crap either.

Walmart cannot cater to the piece of shit Chinese component manufactures because if the shit fries, they will lose tons on returns and unsold product. I also wonder how many of those brand-name products purchased online are actually made for the parent company in mainland China or similar anyways.

Walmart also tends to focus on brand name material across the board. Brand name stuff sells, and it's in the interest of the brand name trademark holder to put out decent quality stuff. They may be second class sometimes, but it's not all bad.

I go to Walmart regularly for 2 reasons--(1) speed and convenience, as my local Walmart has about 6-8 lanes for self-checkout, so I'm in and out in 10 minutes. (2) Best prices although sometimes only by a few cents--I buy my handsoap, laundry items, storage items, paper towels, napkins, trash bags, etc. there. Great place for items that are not durable goods. I'm not going going to buy my DVDs or CDs there (given their past track record of having "another" version just for Walmart).

On the durable goods front, it's a mixed bag. I hear their kitchen stuff isn't bad, but I tend *not* to shop at Walmart *except* for emergency computer parts that I know they carry. I'm not going to buy my stereo, tv, lawnmower, or snowblower there because the stuff often doesn't even seem of high quality.

But disposable cell phones, game consoles, games, even their mice and printers look and function as good as equivalently priced items at Office Depot.

Have you even looked at their computer items section? Brand-name DVDR media at better than Staples or OfficeMax or Office Depot prices. Seagate hard drives at good prices (better online but cheaper than Circuit City). The only location that sells Motorola cable modems at a decent price. I've bought a monitor there for a backup server when it's monitor died, and it functions to this day (plastic is great, picture is decent, features are 'eh').

(I've also had crap bought online that didn't work; at least I can return the stuff at Walmart.)

If they carried motherboards and I had a machine bite it, or just had the urge to slap together a cheapo machine, I wouldn't mind going to Walmart. Even if it is a second-class Abit board, I wouldn't mind.

"Maybe we'll start to see hard-drives with no warranties at all, and power supplies that catch on fire after 20 hours of use."

You also have to consider the pressure on manufactures. Again, Walmart tends to get brand-name manufacturers; where they in turn may get their stuff may be subject, but if the stuff is crap, people won't buy it, and this puts pressure on the maker, not necessarily just Walmart, to put out reasonable material.

If they had no name products, no one will buy them. (Walmart has these DVDRs that just sit there everytime I'm in there; no one really seems to buy them which makes me wonder how their inventory tracking really works.) If they sell things with no warranty, no one will buy the stuff. Half the stuff at retailers often only have 90 or 180 days warranties too, but if stuff gets purchased and dies shortly after, there will be no return purchases, and Walmart, whatever you may think, *thrives* on returning customers.

Not worried about not getting windows (4, Insightful)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257936)

Wal-mart already offers computers without windows (with linspire, last I checked), so that's not an issue. What is an issue is that everything that wal-mart sells is on the, shall we say, low-end. I strongly doubt that Wal-mart will offer any hardware that people who are DIYers will find compelling, and if by some chance they do, the DIY crowd will probably look at other, cheaper outlets where they can get quality hardware for less than what walmart offers it (assuming, as I've said, they offer it at all).

Re:Not worried about not getting windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15257997)

Wal-mart already offers computers without windows (with linspire, last I checked), so that's not an issue.

Only on the website, though. Last I checked, Wal-Mart never sold the Linspire computers in stores.

Re:Not worried about not getting windows (2, Insightful)

Oriumpor (446718) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258000)

Wal-mart will buy in such large bulk that they can afford to retail their hardware at a very low profit margin. If the DIY idea doesn't fly, they'll use them as a loss leader till they run out of stock. The gear will no doubt be bottom of the line, but I doubt anyone who can't buy 1m+ units will be able to compete on pure cost.

Re:Not worried about not getting windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15258013)

Actually, I might use them to build a shitty computer.
It's Wal-Mart -- if it doesn't work, bring it back.
I don't need to much to run my OpenBSD pf for my network =)

Re:Not worried about not getting windows (1)

nitrocloud (706140) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258042)

I agree, WalMart offers some hardware right now, and the last I've seen are video card which are two generations old (nVidia GeForce 5200) selling for $35. The local computer stores have a much higher quality product for much less. And in true comparison, take blank CDs for example, WalMart had the same type (compared by UPC) to my local computer store for $5 more. Being that local computer shops are specialized for their niche in the market, even WalMart can't easily dislodge their power. Therefore I believe that local computer stores and online retailers should see little decline in their sells because of WalMart's actions, but then again we hope that a person who can build a computer would know to shop around for parts rather than just drop money at WalMart. So I think that WalMart may not even offer the current quality hardware many DIYs are looking for and if they do, other shops or even computer chop-shops would be the best place to look for these parts.

Re:Not worried about not getting windows (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258106)

the DIY crowd will probably look at other, cheaper outlets

So you think Wal-mart is going to lose on price? That's the one area where they pretty much never lose.

Assuming they really do this, I'd expect them to be pretty much unbeatable for low-end parts. You'll probably be able to get parts cheaper on-line, but not much cheaper by the time you factor in shipping.

I'm not sure how much typical mom and pop computers stores make off of low-end stuff, vs how much of their profit comes from the higher end. If they make a lot on the low end, I think this is going to spell trouble for them, assuming Wal-mart actually devotes enough shelf space to it.

Re:Not worried about not getting windows (1)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258152)

You just re-made my point, though. No, walmart won't be beat on price simply because they'll be offering (in your words) low-end parts for super cheap. Parts that I don't see the DIY crowd bothering with. Hell anyone who wanted to save on price would probably not bother with a DIY computer and would instead either get a pre-built, or a used one (either from a shop or from someplace such as retrobox.com).

As far as I can tell, anyone who wants to build their own would probably know enough to want better parts, and also know where to get them too.

Re:Not worried about not getting windows (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258187)

Parts that I don't see the DIY crowd bothering with.

But I build my own specifically in order to get the machines as inexpensively as possible, and I use the cheapest parts that I think can do the job adequately. I'm just one anecdote, of course, but I think there are plenty of DIYers who DIY in order to keep the price down, rather than to have the most pimped out box possible.

Re:Not worried about not getting windows (1)

stone2020 (123807) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258119)

I can only think of one brand that would work at Walmart. ECS. People know ECS sucks and they still buy it because its cheap. Just like everything else at Walmart.

Re:Not worried about not getting windows (5, Insightful)

utlemming (654269) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258190)

Maybe not for the computer nerd. But for the nerd that is fixing someone else's computer this may be a dream come true. In smaller towns where there isn't a computer shop, or where the computer shop charges such outrageous fees, it could provide a cost effective, fast way to fix a computer. I can think of countless times that I have been fixing a friend's computer and the computer places are closed. Half the time I fix someone's computer I throw in a component that I wouldn't use in my own computer -- i.e. a low end video card, etc. With Wal-mart providing the low end components that your looking for, at a cheap price, why not?

But I would seriously expect the products at Wal-mart and the small business guy not to compare well. Big-box stores like Wal-mart, Home Depot, etc, are known for playing games with margins. For example if your looking at items like garden products, there is a product for Wal-mart and one for everyone else -- don't believe me, go into your local nursery and look at the Scott's lawn fertilizer, and then go to Wal-mart. The products will compare differently on ingredients, volume, percentages and prices. But they packaging will look nearly exactly the same, except for the declarations which will be different. For real kicks, ask the nurseryman what the difference is between what Wal-mart has and the nursery. So if Wal-mart can take something that is really expensive out or reduce it, then Wal-mart can lower the price and kill competition on margin. When I was working at as a Garden Center manager I wouldn't even compete with Wal-mart on anything they sold. The products would look exactly the same, but when you looks at the specs, they are very different. But Joe Sixpack doesn't know the difference and half the time care. So why would I carry something that will be twice as expensive as Wal-mart if the customer doesn't care enough to find out why I was more expensive? Wal-mart pushed me to carry high to elite-end (i.e. golf course grade) grade products and it allowed me to make the company a lot of money.

What I found was that Wal-mart carrying the low end products brought me more business. People would stop there, and then come and see me. I attended a workshop that says that Wal-mart and other big box stores will actually increase business in the long run if the small business can survive the first three years. After the first three years, business will bounce back. But the key is that the small businesses need to provide an expert that people can talk to.

I could see the same thing happening in computer parts. Some joe who wants to do computers, stops at Wal-mart and figures out the guy behind the counter couldn't care less. Since they already have the thought about doing computers, they go to the shop that knows what they are doing. If the shop doesn't have the elitist attitude and is willing to help the guy learn a small business could make a lot of money of Wal-mart's idea.

Re:Not worried about not getting windows (2, Insightful)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258222)

These things are always worth getting cheap (IMHO, ones about as good as another):
    -ethernet card
    -sound card (unless you're keen on recording, like me)
    -memory readers
    -bluetooth cards

These things are easily commodity (cheaper but not lower quality if shipped/manufactured in bulk):
    -memory
    -CPU fans
    -power supplies
    -cases

And CPUs are generally each their own little niche market, so people will get them at Walmart at the same quality as anywhere else. But it could be *slightly* cheaper because Walmart's shipping model is about the best there is.

I'm sure that there are others that people can think of, but these are the reasons I'd go to Wal-mart for my parts. I think they'd have stuff that I'd like in those categories because they fit into those categories. I should also mention that fans and power supplies wear out on their own. It'd be nice to be able to pick up new ones there.

I don't get it (3, Insightful)

Loligo (12021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257943)


Why wouldn't Wal-Mart customers "have a chance" to install Linux? Do they connect to a different internet than everyone else? Are they banned from entering computer and book stores?

Or are you asking if Wal-Mart will be carrying boxed RedHat distros?

It's never been about consumers having a CHANCE to install Linux, it's been about them having the CHOICE to, and like it or not, most consumers CHOOSE not to.

  -l

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15258025)

Really? - point me in the direction of a town where I can go into an electrical retailer and buy a laptop with linux on it?

Oh I see - I can *choose* to install it - shame I had F. all choice about *buying* the copy of xp that was already on it.

Re:I don't get it (2, Insightful)

Loligo (12021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258053)


I still don't get it: This article is about people buying DIY parts at Wal-Mart, not about you buying a laptop at Best Buy.

Then again, as someone already pointed out earlier in this same article's discussion tree, WalMart already sells systems with Linspire.

Re:I don't get it (1)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258099)

I have a feeling AOL will release a LiveCD distro that gets the user online right away, and of course it's only AOL that can work on the computer. People might wonder why they can't play games in the CDROM drive, but many won't.

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15258155)

The first boxed Linux distro I ever bought was Madrake 9. Where from? Wal-Mart.

Re:I don't get it (1)

moo083 (716213) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258188)

Author is asking whether they will have a choice, when buying the parts, of which OS they use, or if Windows is bundled with the parts. It doesn't seem to make sense as the whole point of DIY is that you can always swap out parts later, so you buy one at a time, but I think thats what he means.

errr... yeah... (1)

atarione (601740) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257945)

but i'd have to step foot into a wallmart....which i'd never do!!!!

additionally i'm willing to guess that the Wallmart employees will make the guys at compUSA look like NASA scientists if you actually had a question?

considering how well some of the online suppliers do at getting me what i want at a very good price (newegg/ mwave / ..etc) i'll be in no big hurry to wade thru the chubby walmart customrs to get a motherboard and proc.

Read the Article Idiots... (5, Informative)

Caeda (669118) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257946)

Walmart is going to sell Towers, Monitors, Keyboards, Mice, and Speakers seperately. Not the individule hardware pieces of the tower. Can't anyone read articles before posting them?

Re:Read the Article Idiots... (1)

spun (1352) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257980)

But how will we get our frosty pists if we are reading the article? Much better to come up with some ill-informed off the cuff remark based on a cursory glance at the summary.

Re:Read the Article Idiots... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15257991)

It's been my experience that people who call a computer case a "tower" are generally clueless.

Mod Parent Up (1)

dstewart (853530) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258002)

Here "build-your-own computer" is just marketing speak for choosing options on a prebuilt package.

"Pick-your-own mouse" must not have done well with the focus groups.

Re:Read the Article Idiots... (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258005)

Can't anyone read articles before posting them?

I don't know. Maybe it's the geek version the gentleman joke.

What's the definition of a gentleman?

Someone who knows how to play the banjo/bagpipes/accordian/viola, . . . but doesn't.

KFG

What a relief! (1)

absinthminded64 (883630) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258035)

I was a little concerned since Walmart's other DIY services are a bit too chatty for me.

What do I care about "Unexpected item in bagging area" and "Please wait for assistance."

Re:Read the Article Idiots... (1)

kaptron (850747) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258116)

From TFA:"Such components include central processing units -- the brain of the computer that powers its basic functions -- as well as monitors, keyboards and mice that customers can combine to create customized packages they can load in a shopping cart and take home right away."

Yeah, it sounds like you will be able to choose very basic things like processor--excuse me, computer brain--speed, which will probably be part of some pre-defined tower set up like a preconfigured Dell, Compaq, etc. The summary definitely has it wrong, OEM parts and Linux aren't going to factor into Walmart's version of "DIY".

Plus, Walmart + Linux = lol.

Post first, read later (5, Funny)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258159)

On /., reading first is **cheating**!

Re:Read the Article Idiots... (1)

Isaac-1 (233099) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258217)

I have read the article to me it sounds more like a limited customizing shop. Think 1 hour photo counter, not rack of parts. They would not use the term Counter if it did not mean there would be someone behind the counter to do 90% of the work. Wal-Mart has had a limited assortment of internal computer components for years (hard drives, internal modems, over priced memory upgrade kits, etc), this is something new. You can train a reasonably typical person to assemble a computer from parts in a few hours, it is not all that hard, certainly no harder than training someone to operate and maintain a 1 hour photo lab. Imagine 2 or 3 base barebones systems, add processor, pre-installed hard drive, video card, and ram, then choose the external add on parts where the "sales associate" can talk you into double prints ^H^H^H^H^H^H monitors, wireless keyboards, etc.

Ike

Wow! (5, Funny)

AriaStar (964558) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257949)

Cheap clothing, food, plans to open a bank, computers.... Is there nothing Wal-Mart doesn't provide aside from living wages, benefits, and dignified to its employees?

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15258047)

I'd like to get me some dignified.

Your rant got ahead of your proofreading...

Prepackaged Desktops Slow Sellers (1)

xzvf (924443) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257952)

It's a way to add a salesperson into the loop. Pick your parts from a nice kiosk display, have them "expertly" assembled. Have them remind you about upgrades and support contracts.

Seriously (2, Informative)

Wisgary (799898) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257957)

Why is it that every Slashdot story that even remotely mentions the computer hardware market HAS to mention the whole "OMG... will they get to switch to Linux? MAYBE THIS IS THE MOMENT WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR." thing?

I highly doubt Wal-Mart is going to be handing out free Ubuntu CD's with every purchase when they can profit from the Microsoft tax. I also highly doubt that Average Joe building his own PC for the first time will even want to fiddle with that penguin thing, if they have even heard of it. Average Joe wants the same thing he has at work, the same thing his friends have, the same thing his boss has, and doesn't want to worry about OpenOffice compatibility with that new fancy Office 2007 thing or even older versions of office.

Not quite "build your own" (4, Insightful)

Sylver Dragon (445237) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257958)

From the article, this just sounds like the "customize it" button on Dell's web site, not the PC Club style, "here's your parts, go fo it." Moreover, this could be really good for small computer shops. I don't see anything about Wal-Mart supporting those PC's. So, a few months after purchase, and two kids who know computers later, the owner will still have to go get the adware removed by someone.

yep. The quote: (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258109)

From the article, this just sounds like the "customize it" button on Dell's web site, not the PC Club style, "here's your parts, go fo it."

Correct, although this is several degrees simpler than Dell, which lets you configure the most inane aspect of a system. The exact quote:

Wal-Mart currently offers only prepackaged bundles of personal computers and accessories in most of its stores. With the build-your-own-computer counters, shoppers can choose between several different components. Such components include central processing units -- the brain of the computer that powers its basic functions -- as well as monitors, keyboards and mice that customers can combine to create customized packages they can load in a shopping cart and take home right away.

Perhaps the reporter is dumbing things down as they usually do. However, if it really is that simple and we have to worry about "horror stories about attempted computer assembly" from people deciding they want a 2GHZ processor instead of a 2.1GHZ processor or a blue logitech keyboard instead of a Microsoft keyboard...I fear for our future.

Re:Not quite "build your own" (1)

GroeFaZ (850443) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258193)

"here's your parts, go fo it."

Need clarification. Was that supposed to mean "go for it" or "go foo it"?

OT: Sig (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258214)

Don't forget #9 either.

AMD vs Intel (1)

9mm Censor (705379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257961)

AMD says to Intel: "You can have Dell, we'll take WalMart"

Here we go again.. (0)

Shaun Olsen (956330) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257965)

The hardware-based 'AOL Generation' has now begun. "LOL WUT R U A WALMARTER OR WAT?!?!11/1/"

Could Walmart accomplish (3, Interesting)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257971)

What Wintel never did? Eliminate compeltely incompatible hardware? Could the market prowess finally force hardware manufacturers to a single and consistent standard?

The good news is that Walmart porbably can. The bad news is that the standard will likely suck.

Re:Could Walmart accomplish (1)

TurboStar (712836) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258167)

Low income consumers drive everything Walmart does which in turn drives their vendors. I doubt this low-tech crowd and their budget purchases will have any impact on the innovation being done today. Business purchasing and Gamers will continue to drive the premium market which is what funds innovation. However, I could definitely see a "Walmart" standard being created strictly for dirt cheap systems. For example: a power supply with a single connector instead of a wiring harness, hard drives just slide in to a SATA backplane, custom cases to eliminate all but one fan (like Dell), and so on. This would diverge from what high end systems have to do to stay flexible.

And when the store is next to Frys? (2, Interesting)

stevew (4845) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257979)

I live in Fremont, CA where we have a brand spanking new Walmart accross the street from a Frys store. I can't imagine they can compete with a major chain store like Frys at component level sales?

This would be interesting.

Re:And when the store is next to Frys? (3, Funny)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258028)

Sure they can. They have better customer service!

Re:And when the store is next to Frys? (1)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258105)

They have better customer service

Hmmm +1 Funny, or +1 Insightfull, or -1 Troll

So many moderations, so few mod points

Re:And when the store is next to Frys? (1)

eln (21727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258121)

No joke. In my experience, Frys has invisible customer service reps, ridiculously long lines, and they aren't all that cheap. Wal-Mart has invisible customer service reps, slightly shorter lines, and would presumably be cheaper.

Frys, on the other hand, has an enormous selection of geek toys. Wal-Mart can't hope to compete with Frys on selection, but then offering a wide selection has never been WalMart's forte.

Re:And when the store is next to Frys? (1)

smbarbour (893880) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258186)

You must not be familiar with the Illinois Fry's. The service is great, the lines are short, and the prices aren't bad. Of course, if you were going to buy computer parts in the Chicago area, you could just go to one of the two TigerDirect stores. I've been to both. Tiger's store is small (but you can get everything they sell there. It's attached to the warehouse.) Fry's has a larger variety of products though.

Re:And when the store is next to Frys? (1)

eln (21727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258194)

I go to the Austin Fry's. I was once at the San Jose Frys (or one near there), and the lines were short there, but it was in the middle of the workday. Still no real customer service, though.

Re:And when the store is next to Frys? (1)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258056)

If they're smart, they'll do like they did with their SuperCenters (WalMarts with a grocery store attached). They won't open them in areas that are already saturated with grocery stores, they will open them in the more rural areas that only have a handful of grocery stores.

A WalMart next to a Fry's probably wouldn't sell many computer components, but a WalMart in a rural town with no other computer stores would.

Re:And when the store is next to Frys? (1)

markana (152984) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258087)

Frys' has customer service? I thought that was against their corporate policy... In any event, there's no way WalMart is going to stock components like Frys (chips, connectors, etc.). They'll just have a selection of mix-and-match major components (case with mb installed, hard drive, keyboard, etc.). All things that their customers can pay the 12-year old next door to snap together in 15 minutes.

Not exactly Heathkit....

Re:And when the store is next to Frys? (1)

robgue (829997) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258192)

i disagree. while there are several fry's stores in the south west these don't compare to how many walmarts there are all over the US. every city and town. That and i would imagine they would get a bulk discount on computer components. if they were to sell parts fry's style and not just prebuilt computers i think it would give fry's a serious run for their money. if it's cheaper of course.

Proper Spin: (3, Interesting)

Alaren (682568) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257982)

So, not satisfied with "virtually" free foreign labor, Wal-Mart now seeks to cut costs by having domestic labor assemble their own computers for free?

I'm only half-kidding, really... but I do wonder. How much more time does it take to properly assemble a barebones computer with everything on-board, than to properly package a "do-it-yourself" computer kit? I'll continue to buy my stuff from NewEgg, while most end-users are already so intimidated by computers that I don't see this taking off.

But I am not a marketing visionary, so what do I know? Maybe it will be a cool new hobby...

WallMart and computer parts (1)

sinij (911942) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257985)

There is no way clientele of WallMart will have expertise to put together a PC, less chose parts that will work together. So very likely they will sell 'kit' computers, something already proven to work together and not very complicated to put together. As to WallMart's effect of computer market - well I think from now on all cables will be of higher quality with clear markings and BIOS will have 'you plugged cable-such-and-such backwards' checks build in. As to Linux - I think it will provide stronger push for better automated installers/detectors.

Re:WallMart and computer parts (1)

Yelley (764199) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258009)

Great. And a whole new generation of people who think they can build/support computers will be born. What will they do when they find out the real stuff isn't all color coded?

Re:WallMart and computer parts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15258203)

BIOS will have 'you plugged cable-such-and-such backwards' checks build in.

Perhaps, but I am thinking it might be along the lines of GaraAnimals. A Giraffe card can only go in the Giraffe slot and a Panda cable only connects to a Panda device.

Irrelevant (1, Troll)

Siberwulf (921893) | more than 8 years ago | (#15257992)

" Will Wal-Mart shoppers migrate to Linux in order to save a hundred bucks or more, or will they even have the chance?"

I see this as totally irrelevant, based on the type of people I see at Wal-Mart. I don't think you'll get a whole lot of hits on a open source OS at the same place that has a gun counter and offers hunting licenses.

Re:Irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15258055)

While this may come as arvelation to you, owning a gun is not mutuqlly exclusive to being intrlligent. WM appears to be seperating the key components of a computer intoseperate purchases, which means you can upgrade your cpu without buying a new ketboard and mouse. In the end if it drives component prices down that is a good deal.

Re:Irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15258067)

Idiots.

I'm a linux kernel developer and I shop at Walmart.

I probably know more about PC hardware than 99% of slashdot readers and I shop at Walmart.

I also drive a pickup truck and have a graduate degree.

Re:Irrelevant (3, Informative)

Loligo (12021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258103)

>I don't think you'll get a whole lot of hits on a
>open source OS at the same place that has a gun
>counter and offers hunting licenses.

Eric would disagree.

So would I.

  -l
(former sys/net admin, drives a 4x4 with a gun rack (with at least one gun in it), hunts regularly)

Re:Irrelevant (1)

nitrocloud (706140) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258122)

It's hard to beat Linux for ease of use (after it is customized) and it's really hard to beat Savage firearms for a bolt action rifle. Maybe it is just me, but I do not believe that ownership of firearms signify that you can't or won't use Linux.

Exhibit A: Me.

Good and bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15257994)

This could be good, for several reasons. One, now when someone has a HDD crash or failure at 2am, there's somewhere to go to get a new drive. Same with any hardware issues, or wanting a spur of the moment upgrade. Us geeks will no longer have time frames in which we can buy products to tinker with or to upgrade our PCs. Another good thing, is that Wal-Mart has a fairly good amount of buying power, so some items may be cheaper than at other stores. (whether its $0.25 or $25), so upgradeing on a short budget may be a little bit easier. I'm sure I could go on and on with this list...

However, the bad side to this.. is well... Now there'll be an influx of noobs on technical forums pleading for help with something. Stories like the Cupholder CD-Rom drive will be more abundant. While they will provide humor, it will also drive many people absolutly bonkers. Wal-Mart has never really been known for great and informative customer service, so that alone is going to lead to a lot of confusion and technical issues.

Really, this is good and bad, and a lot of it really relies on how well Wal-Mart implements this idea, and whether or not they hire knowledgable staff to help people peice together equipment. I hope they also offer assembly for a decent price. That way some of the issues that could come from this concept will be almost non-existant. --I would almost think Wal Mart would have to do this, otherwise their returns on broken/defective hardware would skyrocket through the roof.

As though . . . (2, Funny)

bogidu (300637) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258007)

. . . millions of voices cried out in terror, and then suddenly silenced.

Re:As though . . . (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258086)

Why, did the Walmarters install Linux and can't boot now, and can't find out how to switch back to Windows?

I'd consider that not the worst that could happen to the net...

I'd definitely buy from them (2, Insightful)

i am kman (972584) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258010)

as long as they sell major brands (like HP/Compaq or Gateway).

In fact, I MUCH prefer this model where you can semi-customize your own PC from a range of well-defined options. Beats the hell out of CompUSA or Best Buy where you have to take whatever configuration they have have on the shelf.

I'd bet they get exclusive distribution rights to some major brand like Gateway and then sell them at 30% below everyone else's computer.

Don't underestimate the power of WalMart to sell anything to the masses.

And I actually get to say... (2, Insightful)

Glowing Fish (155236) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258015)

"good for Wal-Mart".
I know that lots of people are going to give theories about what nefarious motivations Wal-Mart might have for doing this. (and then a lot of people are going to fire back saying 'this is how the market works, pinko!)
But I see this as just trying to create a new market for something that people might want. It is weird that we don't have more computer parts stores: after all, it is easy to find mass-marketed auto parts stores, and working on a computer is a lot easier than working on a car. This is just giving people a chance to be able to practice some new technical skills themselves.
Its weird that this hasn't caught on before. When I was in Taiwan, two years ago, I visited the computer market in Tainan, and in most of the stores, including some major ones, they had about as much DIY stuff (that was labelled DIY), as they had pre-made stuff. I feel Americans should be at the front of the world in gear-headism.

Maybe? (4, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258022)

Maybe this will bring on an influx of new hardware enthusiasts, along with plenty of horror stories about attempted computer assembly. ...Will Wal-Mart shoppers migrate to Linux in order to save a hundred bucks or more, or will they even have the chance?

Yea, yea! And maybe they will all be nympomaniac blondes with huge bimbos that will be ready to do anything if you show them how to properly install a SLI video card setup on their home-made PC-s?

And they will be easily impressed when you show them your mad Perl skills?

----

Or maybe it'll create a small niche market for the already existing geeks and not change much of anything.

We can always dream though, that's what Slashdot is for.

Return policy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15258057)

Wal-Mart has a rather customer-friendly return policy (which I appreciated when I had to exchange a game that had a defective cd), compared to most stores. I'd personally be reluctant to buy a cpu or motherboard that could have been restocked after having who-knows-what done to it by some fool.

Re:Return policy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15258110)

Oops, it seems I mistook "central processing unit" for "processor", when they really meant the "hard drive". ;)

Bad Math (0)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258071)

in 1200 of its 3200 stores, with plans to do so in at least 1400 by the end of the year.

I hope the guy programming the cash registers at Wal-Mart isn't the same guy as the one who did the math above. If he is, profits at Wal-Mart should be way up and I'm heading out to buy their stock.

Reminds me of a story of a store in Escondido, Calif. called Rube Nelson's Fabulous Country Corner. Boy was it a rip-off. Off-brands you've never heard of. And then there was The Broom.

By the checkout counter was a broom. For those few people who actually looked at their old fashioned (non-barcoded, non-itemized) cash register receipt and noticed an extra charge on it, they'd be told "That's for the broom". Only if they protested that it wasn't their broom would the charge be taken off. You can imagine that the number of protesters wasn't very high. The Broom, of course, remained exactly where it was waiting for the next customer to come through.

Re:Bad Math (2, Informative)

HFShadow (530449) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258124)

How is that bad math?

3200 stores exist. 1200 stores are getting it now. 1400 will have it by the end of the year.

seems clear enough to me, there isn't even any math involved!

Say goodbye to the local suppliers (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258072)

like PC club and all that. If you know about wal-mart's business practices, this pretty much spells doom for small PC shops (if they still are alive). This might be good at first, as wal-mart's tactics consist of selling good parts for cheap at first then moving towards lower end parts and charging more, once their competition has gone away.



But since most of us buy our components online, will this really affect *US* that much? I think not.



But, not to be ..... but if you like to scam walmart, geez... these doors will swing wide open. Their return reps won't be able to tell a socket 7 board from a LGA775 board. If you are into that type of thing... like ripping off the big corps... not saying I am.... dot dot dot

Talk about total, brutal, revenge... (4, Insightful)

Senzei (791599) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258085)

Someone higher up at wal-mart must really hate the people behind the returns counter. I've heard of returns from people that failed to correctly operate a toaster.

I think we should all bow our heads in silent prayer for the poor fools working at the wal-mart returns and electronics desks. Then next time you start to think about how much you hate your job remember that there are people who would probably kill someone to be as free from stupidity as you are.

A market... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15258141)

Although I haven't been in a Wal-Mart for several years now will continue to avoid it, the idea of having a source of computer hardware after 9:00 PM is appealing.

On a separate note, one of Best Buy's greatest fears is a more direct competition from Wal-Mart and I suspect Wal-Mart has been eyeing their market for some time. I would think that Best Buy would be concerned about this because even mediocre success in this area could put price pressure on Best Buy.

Is this just branding (1)

debozero (209948) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258145)

I agree with several of the /.ers when they question if people at Walmart can assemble a PC but isn't this just Walmart's way to make their shoppers feel included? I mean many if not most of the /.ers are never going to go to Wallmart for parts so the marketing guy who came up with this was looking at it as a way to make building PC's cool similar to how IPods make creating mp3's cool for those same Walmart shoppers. Just a thought......

What Wal-Mart is Good For (2, Funny)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258168)

Making me feel thin again.

Availability (2, Interesting)

VGR (467274) | more than 8 years ago | (#15258169)

I hate buying from Wal-Mart, but sometimes they carry things that no one else in the area sells.

I live in a pretty rural area. The nearest actual town has no CompUSA, no Best Buy, and in fact no stores that sell significant computer hardware. There have been many times when I wished there were at least one such store.

Even in the sticks, there's a number of computer guys out here who wouldn't mind having a hands-on place from which to buy hardware. Why not buy online? Because often I want to look at the box and read the specs and such. Not to mention, it's much easier to return something to a physical store than it is to return something bought online.

So Wal-Mart has a chance to snag a pretty untapped market in my opinion.
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