Media Center Doesn't Meet Our Standards
As a custom retailer, the last thing I want to deal with is a Windows-based computer that leads my customer to give me an "emergency" phone call because he can't watch the next episode of Lost. I want to sell products that help me avoid such scenarios.
Suozzi and I also discussed the hardware end of Media Center. The fact is, he could build me a similar machine for a fraction of what it cost me to acquire the unit from the manufacturer. That wasn't the only time I heard such a thing, either. Since I opened my new showroom in September, I've had three computer guys—they seemed like IT guys getting off the train from Manhattan—come in and ask me if we had any interest in working with them on future products using their Windows Media Center machines. The best part is that they just figured they would get to build, sell and install the machines themselves, while they kicked me back a whopping five percent! Are these guys nuts or what?
Anyway, to sum up: My overall opinion of the Media Center product was not very high. I don't see many of my customers looking to use a computer to watch TV after a long day at the office. From a business point of view, I also don't see the profitability in the product.
Media Center points to the big convergence we are all experiencing, and I am all for convergence. I think we are living in a very exciting time for our industry. However, I believe that if (and probably when) Microsoft is ready to take a piece of our pie, it's going to have to do a much better job.
Even then, we all know how profitable selling computer products can be, right? Yes, that's sarcasm. Microsoft needs to realize the margins we need to sustain in order for it to be profitable enough for us to sell these machines.