Recently, a co-worker of mine had to upgrade his laptop. His requirement was a computer that fit both his current and future needs. Computers are outdated almost as soon as you purchase one so thinking about the future during the purchase process makes a lot of sense financially. It is better to pay a little more during your computer purchase for something that may be a little too powerful for you now, but instead of upgrading once a year you may be able to wait every two years. This saves you money. In our current economy, thought processes like this make even more sense.
Microsoft is currently offering for students, through participating computer makers and retailers, a new Xbox 360 with the purchase of a computer that comes pre-installed with Windows 7. Most PC computers come with Windows 7. So that isn’t really very hard to do. Apple computers obviously use a completely different operating system. So there is the first business competition factor. Microsoft is providing an incentive beyond the computer operating system to keep a leg up on its competition. Not only are comparably powered PCs cheaper than Macs but Microsoft is throwing in a $200 entertainment device for free as well.
Beyond that, there is also the video game system wars which has so far typically been fought on system hardware, quantity and quality of games available, and price. In the current generation of video game consoles, Nintendo is the big winner with their Wii, but Sony’s PS3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 are in direct competition with each other. Giving away a free console is a way for Microsoft to distance itself from Sony and become more popular and profitable.
We forget the wonder of how capitalism benefits us when we become jaded to how it surrounds American society. Through competition and the desire to make more money, businesses are able to provide consumers with not just what they need but what they want or desire; sometimes for free. Without capitalism there would be no competition between Microsoft and Sony and Microsoft and Apple. Sony and Apple are not Microsoft’s only competition and that’s a good thing. This is just a slice of what goes on in billions of individual decisions and transactions every day.
The great thing is that my co-worker is a student and already has an Xbox 360 so he generously passed his free console on to me. Microsoft now has a new consumer enjoying its products which has now intrigued me to find out what games I want to buy which helps the video game makers and Microsoft make money. It also makes me happy. Capitalism is the best ever! Off to play Portal 2…