Do We Get Enough In Innovation for What We Give to Microsoft

It's 2004; do you know where your computer dollars are going? One can learn a lot about the computer industry by looking at the breakdown of manufacturing costs in an average desktop PC, as compiled by iSuppli Corp., a market-research firm. Excluding labor and shipping, and leaving out the costs of a monitor, keyboard or mouse, the typical desktop PC these days costs the Dells or the H-Ps of the world roughly $437 in parts.

The biggest portion of that -- 30%, or $134 -- goes to Intel for a Pentium processor. The disk drives, including whatever CD or DVD is installed, cost around $104; the RAM memory is $54; and the remaining hardware items -- power supply, case, circuit boards -- total $100. The final 10%, or $45, goes to Microsoft for the Windows operating system. Because these prices are never disclosed, the figures here represent best guesses. But you can start to see the contours of the computer industry in that bill of fare. Specifically, you begin to understand how Microsoft could amass its $61 billion in cash and other assets. It's easy when you collect nearly 10% of the cost of every PC that's shipped, while having no manufacturing costs of your own.

News source: The Wall Street Journal Online

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