Originally posted by Ompus
Two things: you don't know many "consumers", and you obviously hang out with serious geeks.
Actually, I know lots of consumers, and lots of people whose interest in computers is tenuous at best. I also know some serious geeks.
I think you know that adding a hard-drive rarely involves more than the following:
1. Turn off machine
2. Remove case.
2. Unscrew bay mounts.
3. Insert drive.
4. Screw in HD to bay mounts.
5. Attach supplied eide/ide cable.
6. Attach power supply.
7. Turn on Machine.
And if you know any consumers, that's about 5 steps too many. Especially since, in most cases, steps 2 (the first 2
) through 6 are fidgety, tedious, and trigger the "I don't want to break anything!" instinct in people who aren't used to mucking around with hardware.
When I installed a hard drive for my roommate, step 4 proved to be quite interesting because the screw holes in the drive didn't line up with the screw holes in the drive bay (the machine is a Compaq). Once we'd jimmied it in, attaching the IDE cable and getting the right jumper settings took a couple of tries too (the BIOS didn't like the auto setting - go figure).
This is nothing I'd expect, say, my mother to do. Or my brother (for whom I installed RAM in an original iMac). Or my father. Or my bandmates. Or any of the other non-geeks I know.
Anyone whose ever been to BestBuy and seen the racks of wintel pci/AGP cards, optical drives, hard-drives and memory they offer knows expansion is a consumer demand.
There's not all that much at the local Best Buy, actually, and of course they sell those because they know full well that the buyer will want Best Buy to install whatever it is. For a fee, of course.
Every E-Machines computer offers PCI slots and the ability to add an extra hard-drive. Or are eMachines targeted at "Prosumers."
eMachines are targeted at cheapskates and fools. They offer PCI slots and drive bays solely and exclusively because ATX cases and boards do, and those are the cheapest options. eMachines makes $5 per machine. They're never going to do market research and they're never going to do a clean-sheet design based on the results of that research. They're going to take advantage of the commodity market, which has been faithfully recycling the same design for about 30 years now, because that's what commodity markets do.
The argument that consumers don't want expansion slots is belied by the fact that overwhelming majority of consumer machines ARE expandable.
And that argument is mooted by the fact that any other option would involve more than just putting somebody else's board in somebody else's case and competing on price, which is the PC OEM business model. The boards support PCI because that's in the standard their suppliers adhere to; the cases have the drive bays because they're in the standard their suppliers adhere to; and there you go.
Last but not least...the consumer doesn't want an expansion slot because they NEED an expansion slot...they want an expansion slot as an insurance policy for the future. Who knows what the future will bring? In 2 years will your eMac need Firewire 800? Gigabit Ethernet? USB 2.0? A 300 Gig SATA drive? Whose to say? But regardless of what the device-makers drea, up with next, you're pretty much screwed if you own an eMac. Ditto the iMac, except for its cutting edge use of USB 2.0.
This argument only holds for sea changes like serial->USB, which are incredibly rare because, again, the industry wants ubiquity and compatibility above all. Improvements like FireWire 800 and Gigabit ethernet take long enough to trickle down that by the time they're common you probably need another machine anyway.
Mostly, this is just a sales tactic to push people up to more expensive models. It's not a real concern. The exception would be machines that are so stripped down that they have
to be upgraded to remain functional, but Apple doesn't generally do that. It's not Mac-like to have to crack your machine open and fiddle with it.