Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Amazingly cheap computing

I guess the younger you are, the less this post may resonate.

Computers and computing gadgets and software is staggeringly cheap. Yes, games, but practially everything. I recently bought Sony Vegas HD 11 video editing software. It does EVERYTHING, and it cost under £100, as I recall. I’ve spent more than that on getting my boiler serviced. This is software that I could use to run an entire video editing business. It’s mad.

I also bought an external 1 terrabyte back up drive yesterday for £45.


I need not remind you that a terrabyte is over 1,000,000 megabytes, which is a million zipped copies of war and peace. And I got a device that can store all that for less than the price of a tank of petrol. This is staggering.

Meanwhile, to compensate, the rest of the world gets stupidlty expensive. I just bought a 990mm by 395mm piece of 2mm thick polycarbonate (plastic) and it cost me £27 including tax and delivery. Madness. Getting a drain unblocked cost me over £100.

We live in strange times indeed. Everything is so expensive its a wonder people can afford to live, and yet anything encoded digitally is so cheap as to be laughable, and the technology that would have been dismissed a decade ago as a pipe-dream is now practically disposable. As an IT engineer I worked on 30MB hard drives you could practically crush a car with. You now wouldn’t bother buying a hard drive below a terrabyte, and you could put that in a large pocket.

If only all this crazy advances in computing tech co0uld be applied to making this stuff cheaper. Insulation FTW.

6 thoughts on Amazingly cheap computing

  1. I would say that happens because (but not only) the fact that software can be reproduced infinitely, at zero cost, and each copy sold by a full price. After software completion, no more manhours are needed to keep selling that ready version, which means possible astronomic profit for a low sell price.

    As for hardware, i think everyone knows how cheap it is to create those pieces, machines are able to produce material like crazy, so the prices can be that low. Also, don’t forget that its an evolutive process, for the same price, a few years ago, you would get something equivalent, from what the current technology could provide. An immediate example is that i bought like 2 years ago a 1TB HD for 80, and now i can buy a 2TB HD for 70..

    With all of this, man labor tends to be more valuable and everything associated with it. For example, core products like mobile phones tend to be so cheap (the HD case) but the acessories tend to be astronomicly expensive, because they tend to associate with man-assisted repairs and part substitution. I sell phones during the day, and i can exemplify the point by saying that i have phones to sell for 15$, that include battery, charger and earphone. These components cost 30$+, 13$+ and 12$+, respectively. What about that?

    You’ve made a good point!

  2. Mobile phones are a poor example. They’re often sold as a loss-leader so that people will buy plans and accessories at a much larger profit. People who don’t own a mobile phone won’t buy those things so it’s used as a gateway for those other things where payments are frequent and egregious.

  3. I remember when we had 5¼-inch floppy disks that could hold 720 KB. Now I have a USB key that fits in my pocket and holds 2 GB. Sometimes I feel as if reality has overtaken sci-fi.

  4. Considering that, allegedly worldwide. governments in general are getting greener and more ecological, the price of doing so is still disproportionately high.

    Insulation, solar panels, energy saving kits – all with a ‘comparatively’ large initial outlay. Could do with some help there fellas (and ladies!)

  5. The difference is China. I visited there earlier this year and was astonished at the very high work ethic combined with high education standards and (at present) relatively low expectations of reward. And it is all supported by excellent infrastructure. Anything from China, whether it is computer related, or clothing, household appliances, cameras or whatever is disproportionately cheap. Anything involving US or European labour (your insulation and drain cleaning) is expensive by comparison.

    It won’t be like this forever. Already Beijing’s 9 million bicycles are being replaced by mopeds. The Chinese workers will gradually demand more reward. And we will have to pay for it.

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