This makes perfect sense in certain vertical markets with unique requirements that can't be easily met with off-the-shelf computers. Think of the manufacturing floor, the science lab and hostile military, petrochemical and police/emergency response environment. The capability to design computers concealed in cars or built into chemists' tables, while still maintaining full upgrade and patch capability, offers a huge advantage.
What about building them into desks as removable modules, or into walls for home automation, enhanced security capabilities or just to create a cleaner look? A school could create unique laptops and tablets that would better meet students' need and be hard to resell (and therefore nearly worthless to a thief). A firm could equip its sales force with a PC that better promotes the company brand or uses a unique component that the firm sells; this would help sales, create a deep connection between the employee and the company and still retain the support advantages of a more off-the-shelf solution.
Are You Ready to Think Out of the Box?
What would you do if you could have any PC configuration you could imagine, limited only by the technology available? Heck, what if the PC maker worked with AMD to customize the processor and GPU to order? It could be portable, wireless, look wild, hide in a modular case, run any x86 operating system (and likely Android as well), come with (or without) a display. The only lasting design limitation would be your imagination. Wouldn't that be the near ultimate choice?
I may not have that kind of imagination, but it would sure be fun to have that level of freedom. Remember Apple's "Think Different" campaign - wouldn't this kind of freedom be more conducive to actually thinking differently?
Imagine if you could build the perfect PC. Would you be up to the challenge? Apparently, a ton of people are. That's why Dell OEM is the incredibly successful and largely unknown PC company.
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