PC industry’s woes could mean bargains this fall

If you’re looking for bargains on computers, bad news from the tech industry could be good for your pocketbook, reports the Associated Press. Computer makers are scrambling for ways to goose faltering consumer demand after a weak start to the back-to-school shopping season. That could mean deeper price cuts and other promotions beyond the incentives that the industry dangled in front of shoppers to lure them into stores during the worst of the recession. The latest sign of trouble came Aug. 27 when Intel Corp. lowered its forecast for the third quarter, saying demand for consumer PCs has been weaker than expected. Because Intel’s microprocessors are used in 80 percent of the world’s PCs, its forecast essentially speaks for the health of the entire PC industry. Plus, its orders are based on how many computers the world’s biggest PC makers expect to make in the coming months, so weak chip sales now could foreshadow weak results to come from those manufacturers. Consumer spending on discounted computers was instrumental in helping buoy the industry over the past two years, while businesses cut way back—but that trend is now reversing. Consumers aren’t spending on technology as freely as they were; uncertainty about jobs is keeping their spending in check. Meanwhile, businesses have freed their budgets a bit. It’s not necessarily because they’re more sanguine about their prospects. Instead, upgrading technology makes financial sense: Maintaining old machines can be more expensive than buying new ones with more features…

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