Cheap Computers don’t sell, according to new research by two Harvard professors.
The study, conducted by Princeton University and Northwestern University, found that the market for cheap PCs has declined in the past five years, while the market remains strong for premium PCs, the study found.
It was the first time that a group of professors, who specialize in the business of data analysis, had used the term “cheap computers” to describe the current state of the market.
“I don’t think people are really paying for cheap computers anymore,” said Steven C. Mathers, a professor of computer science at Harvard.
“They’re paying for premium computers, they’re paying at least a little bit for premium servers, they can pay for a decent networked workstation, and the cost is less than the price of the machine itself.”
The study focused on PC sales, but the same trends held for servers, workstations, and even desktops.
The researchers looked at data from more than 4,000 PC and server purchases at retailers like Amazon and Microsoft and compared them to the data for the same purchases made at local retailers.
They found that “cheapest PCs have been declining over the past two years,” MatherS said.
The data show that the majority of the sales of PCs and servers have been for $50 or under, with the bulk of the spending coming from low-priced PCs.
The researchers believe this may be due to the popularity of tablets and smartphones, which are often cheaper and have more features than PCs.
This decline in the market may be related to the increasing number of consumers who are not used to paying for a computer, Mather said.
“The more you’re paying, the less likely you are to upgrade,” M, M, and M said.
“The price of a computer is going down because you’re having to spend less money.
The more you have to spend, the more you pay.”
Mathers said it may be more difficult to make a dent in the demand for expensive PCs because consumers are more likely to buy them on impulse and for short-term needs, like getting away from home for a weekend.
“It’s very easy for consumers to say, ‘Oh, I can’t afford to buy that computer,’ or ‘I can’t use that computer for a year or two.’
But then they get a really good deal on a better computer,” he said.
M, C, and C added that consumers may not be ready to pay a lot for a high-end PC, and may instead be “showing off” the PC to family and friends.
“It’s easier for a consumer to buy a really expensive computer than a really cheap computer,” M said, because a “really good” computer will cost less than a “cheaper” computer.
The report also showed that the trend of people choosing low-end PCs over premium ones is likely continuing.
“If you want to have the most bang for your buck, you have two choices,” M. C said.
The premium models can offer better performance or “better cooling” that may lower the overall price of your computer.
“A lot of people have opted for the premium model, so it’s not like the premium is the only option.”
The report was based on data from the 2013-2014 PC Computing Survey, which has about 4,800 retail purchases made by more than 13 million consumers.
Mather said it’s possible that people are buying the cheapest computers in bulk, or they are paying for the lowest-end machines that are available for a low price.
“People may be spending a lot more than they’re spending for a good computer,” C. C. said.
In this situation, consumers may choose to purchase their PCs at low prices, which means that they are less likely to upgrade or buy a new computer in the future, he said, making them more vulnerable to the cost of higher-end products.
The number of people who pay less for a PC is also likely to continue to increase, with about two-thirds of the total buying a $200 or less PC.
This is similar to the situation with the high-priced laptops.
“There’s not much you can do about that,” M M said of the lower-priced prices.
“You have to keep buying more.”
Follow Elizabeth Hirschfeld on Twitter @lindseyhirschfeld.