Wal-Mart, judged by its sales, would be the 18th largest economy in the world. So, when the global retailer decides to do something, it usually moves markets.
Right now, analysts are pondering what impact its decision to stimulate a price-war in the laptop sector will have on personal computer manufacturers reeling from recession.
The PC community, largely represented by Microsoft, which produces Windows operating software, Intel, the chip-maker, and Hewlett-Packard and Dell, which manufacture the computers, is already under siege from an influx of low-cost, lightweight netbooks, mostly hailing from Taiwanese manufacturers such as Acer and Asustek.
If Wal-Mart carries out its threat of selling an HP laptop running Windows Vista with 3 gigabytes of memory and a 160-gigabyte hard drive for under $300 (£182), then that spells trouble indeed for PC margins. Mighty Microsoft, for example, has just reported a loss in its quarterly financial results – its first consecutive loss ever. And that’s before the Wal-Mart price promotion kicks in.
Believe it or not, the Wal-Mart threat and recession may only be mooncast shadows compared with another problem rocking the PC business. More in this week’s magazine column.