Newsletter Issue #795: Junkware Goes Off the Cliff

February 23rd, 2015

No you might wonder just how a PC company can sell you a note-book for $400, and a desktop PC for $300 and somehow stay in business. Just what sort of components do you expect in computers that cheap, and where’s the profit? Well, it’s not that PC companies are, in general, all that profitable, except for Apple of course. Apple manages to exist in a different universe, ranging from the MacBook Air, at $899, which is in the middle of the price range, to the Mac Pro, which sells for close to $10,000 if you get carried away with the option list on a custom model. Either way, profits are exemplary.

Well, one way the PC makers make up for the profit shortfall is to sell the desktop to third party companies. So you unpack your spanking new PC, turn it on, and you find the Windows desktop cluttered with stuff that you never ordered. It may consist of demo software, which works for a short time before you have to buy a license to keep it working. Or perhaps a six-month trial for a security app, or maybe something that’ll provide some value that you don’t quite understand.

So it seems that Lenovo, one of the fastest growing PC makers, one of the few companies that continues to increase sales, recently installed a possibly insidious variation on the junkware theme, or did. It seemed they loaded a number of PCs with adware from a company known as Superfish. So when you visited a site in your browser, Superfish would insert itself into your request and stick some ads in there, ads that, of course, you never requested. Aren’t the targeted ads you already see online quite enough?

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