Is your computer running slow?

Heath Verhasselt, T

Don’t you just love how your car has eight cylinders, when it only lets you use four? Or how you have to buy a right shoe first, and then buy the left? Not to mention how your iPod only lets you use one-third of the space inside of it, leaving the rest empty.

Oh, that’s right, none these things actually happen. When we buy something, we get to use it to its full capacity. We get both shoes, our cars go as fast as they can and we get to fill up our iPods to their maximum capacity. These things are commonplace, and this is not what Intel Corporation wants.

Intel is rolling out a new pricing strategy for its computer processors, the part of the computer that runs all of the computers instructions. The company wants to put processors into computers that are throttled to half the speed of their true capability. So essentially you’d be buying a computer that runs half as fast as it should.

The idea behind this is that you could buy a $50 upgrade card that would allow you to type a code into your computer and have it unlock the rest of the power from the computer. It’s just like buying downloadable content in “Call of Duty,” but instead of getting more levels, your Xbox would run faster and you’d have no lag. Now that would be something to see — Microsoft, get on it.

The real question is, is this a good idea? Intel claims it is only going to use this strategy on a few lower-end machines and see how it plays out over the next year or so. From a business standpoint, it’s an ingenious idea; businesses are always looking for ways to get more money out of the products they sell.

It also fits into how the company manufactures chips, so it’s rather cheap for Intel. However inexpensive it may be now, at what cost can this be done? How many customers will buy those computers thinking they have all the power they need, and then take it home to realize its being throttled?

The answer to that: not many. Very few people will actually notice that their computer is running slower and will probably be excited to find out about this fool-proof way to speed up their machines later down the road.

It’s really the principal of the matter — it’s the difference between goods and services, and Intel wants to confuse you in regards to which is which. You subscribe to cable TV knowing that you might not be getting all the channels that you could get, or how you sign a contract for your cell phone. You know what you are getting and how you could get “unlimited everything” but you choose not to.

Computers aren’t services — not yet — and shouldn’t be treated as such. This may start out as an entry-level experiment, but Intel could roll this out to its whole line of processors, making the already confusing concept of computers and technology even worse for the user. Hopefully AMD, Intel’s competition, will see this opportunity and use this against the company, causing Intel to rethink its strategy. Or they might do the exact opposite and join in to completely change the way we think about and use computers.

Hopefully this won’t be the case, or not yet anyway.