Some 6 months ago I exited the computer repair business I had been operating for over 10 years. The biggest reason for this was the future of the computer repair industry.
The trend in recent years has been a migration from desktop to laptop computers, and more recently from laptop computers to tablets and mobile phones. Sure there are exemptions to this, as many home users feel more comfortable browsing the internet using a laptop, but it seems a growing trend that the majority of computing time people spend today is away from conventional computers.
There are also businesses who still require desktop computers to suit their needs, however their needs are more and more being fulfilled by specialist software companies who provide a complete package of hardware and software, and there are even trends towards using tablet computers like there is in the home setting.
So why not do tablet and mobile phone repairs? Well, that brings the issue of cost of replacement, an issue that applies to the entire computer industry. When I first started my career the average home computer cost several thousand dollars. Today, few spend over a thousand and that price continues to decline. The same trend has occurred with smartphones, which initially cost over a thousand dollars but today very powerful devices can be bought for just a few hundred dollars. So from a consumer point of view, why repair a $500 device potentially at a cost of $300, when you can just buy a new one? Many mobile phone repairs such as screen replacements are very labour intensive, have expensive parts, have significant risks of damage, and often don’t seem worthwhile compared to the cost of replacement.
I thought I should now cover a fairly obvious question: so why not sell computers and tablets? The obvious answer is margins. I’m yet to discover any computer distributor who makes more than 15% margins, nor any that don’t handle a costly stock inventory often valued in the millions of dollars with rapid value declines (essentially they’re perishable goods). I’ve also watched many distributors rise and fall leaving me to believe its a safer and less challenging gamble to invest in the stock markets.
Which leaves me with the conclusion, that I believe a very small number of computer repairers will survive the next 10 years. The market will continue to develop into a state where repairs are not economically viable. Consultants will be more fortunate, but with a growing rise in specialist software, they won’t be much more fortunate.
Despite the strong set of computer skills I have, I’ve moved away from it all, now working for a major retailer and have quickly been promoted to a management role. I’ve now come to realise that the retail industry can earn significantly larger salaries with a much lower skill set. A case example is my 26 year old boss who is earning $250k/pa, and has no university qualifications. A former customer recently asked me, do I miss my old business and was left without words when I answered them “Not in the slightest”
But for me computing will live on, as after many years of begrudgingly treating all computers as another task of work, I now have rediscovered how I enjoy computers as a hobby, and have several projects I now have the motivation and time to invest more focus.