[2012-Apr-16] Graphing calculators

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[2012-Apr-16] Graphing calculators

Postby Destructicus » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:35 am

http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db ... 2582#comic

xkcd once made a similar comic, but it lacked a joke: http://xkcd.com/768/

I gather that the reason is that calculators aren't mass produced on the same scale as PCs, laptops, tablets, phones mp3-players etc.. Fewer people use them and those who do, don't buy a new one every few years.
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Re: 2012.04.16. - Graphing calculators

Postby Guest1 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:07 am

You explained the joke, yet it is still just as funny.
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Re: 2012.04.16. - Graphing calculators

Postby Sandwiches » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:38 am

Guest1 wrote:You explained the joke, yet it is still just as funny.


Take that Zach!
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Re: 2012.04.16. - Graphing calculators

Postby JTDC » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:24 pm

Destructicus wrote:http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2582#comic

xkcd once made a similar comic, but it lacked a joke: http://xkcd.com/768/

I gather that the reason is that calculators aren't mass produced on the same scale as PCs, laptops, tablets, phones mp3-players etc.. Fewer people use them and those who do, don't buy a new one every few years.


Patents are more responsible. Plenty of individual parts have to be licensed from various patentholders, who are not charging less for their parts just because they're older. They could, in theory, develop their own hardware and software, but it wouldn't actually make things cheaper, since the development cost would have to be put into each calculator.
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Re: [2012-April-16] Graphing calculators

Postby MrJay » Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:43 pm

Development cost isn't tied to the number of calculators so if you target a larger market segment with calculators other than high school students (e.g. grad students and working professionals), you might be able to produce a profit. Currently, it is nearly impossible to challenge TI because it is probably having a love affair with all the standardized test companies out there. They might even enact litigation against new companies that produce graphing calculators, having to hire a legal team could spell doom for a new company.
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Re: [2012-April-16] Graphing calculators

Postby JTDC » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:04 pm

Cost of development is quite high--TI has not developed its' own internal components for that reason. TI has targeted the markets that it can, as widely as it can with things like the TI-89 that engineers and grad students would absolutely adore. Problem is that the price hasn't gone down basically since release over a decade ago--because of the patents of other people. TI isn't the bad guy here, the lower-end models are sold practically at cost to them.

Total cost of development has to be accounted for, and the opportunity cost for that is quite high. That's part of the reason that there are so few CPU manufacturers/designers--the cost of development and the cycle for development is quite steep. Entry to the market for that is quite hard. And, for a calculator being sold, at most, for around 150 bucks the net max profit isn't nearly good enough to justify the risk to return. It isn't about lawsuits, or standardized testing places deciding to go with the most popular model at the time of their decision. Then you have to consider that the actual market for such a calculator is very, very small--less than 1% of the population would ever need to consider owning one, at all, and they are durable goods. In short, they aren't going to get the kind of sales necessary to justify the cost of developing their own hardware and software for it, so licensing is actually cheaper for the consumer.

Then you have to consider other overhead as well. The fact that maybe 1% of the general population would consider buying a product makes it harder to justify the cost of development.
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Re: [2012-April-16] Graphing calculators

Postby dauntless » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:46 pm

xkcd's graphing calculator joke was better, and it wasn't that good to begin with.
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Re: [2012-April-16] Graphing calculators

Postby Sandwiches » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:20 pm

Like you actually think that? You actually think someone going "Maybe it's just one guy" is a better joke?

It's what someone might say if they were having an actual conversation, but when you are controlling what both people are saying you are expected to do better than kind of funny in the moment.

At least SMBC's was a punchline that you wouldn't really expect.
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Re: [2012-April-16] Graphing calculators

Postby Sandwiches » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:21 pm

Also










































Image
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Re: 2012.04.16. - Graphing calculators

Postby Drocket » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:51 am

JTDC wrote:Patents are more responsible.


I find that explanation somewhat questionable, since patents last 20 years. The TI 84-plus, which is the current model that sells for $120+, really isn't fundamentally different than the original TI 81 that was introduced in 1990. Sure, the new model is a bit faster (a whopping 15 MHz), has a bit more RAM (a whole 128KB), and it has a USB port (this is useful?), but its still using the same god-awful 96x64 pixel display.

I also really don't think the limited market excuse really works. Sure, at any one time, a small percentage of the population will want one of these calculators, but that percentage is guaranteed to be constantly turning over. Every single solitary year, hundreds of thousands of high school/college students WILL buy a graphic calculator. And realistically, that is the reason prices are so high: TI is able to charge that much because those students simply don't have any real choice.

Its basically the same reason college textbooks are so insanely expensive. You're going to have to buy their product no matter what they charge, so they might as well gouge you for every penny they can.
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Re: [2012-April-16] Graphing calculators

Postby sotic » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:52 am

The first time I noticed a comic's background gradually change from start to end, I thought it was pretty cool. Now that I've noticed Zach does it for just about every comic, it's much less interesting.
Wind catches lily / Scatt'ring petals to the wind: / Segmentation fault
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Re: 2012.04.16. - Graphing calculators

Postby Guest » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:20 am

Guest1 wrote:You explained the joke, yet it is still just as funny.


Is that supposed to be a comliment. I can't tell, but usually explaining a joke makes it significantly less funny, so that seems like the best possible outcome.
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Re: 2012.04.16. - Graphing calculators

Postby Kaharz » Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:51 am

Drocket wrote:
JTDC wrote:Patents are more responsible.


I find that explanation somewhat questionable,


I imagine they continue to be that expensive because students are required to buy them and I've yet to see any teacher/professor use anything but a TI after many years of school.* So TI basically has a captive market. It might not be a huge market, but it is a stable one that has little other choice.

*My mom bought me a non-TI graphing calculator when I was in high school a long time ago. The teacher had no idea how to use it and I had great difficulty following any of the class demonstrations because the UI was completely different. It sucked
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Re: 2012.04.16. - Graphing calculators

Postby Spaceguy5 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:27 pm

Drocket wrote:
JTDC wrote:Patents are more responsible.


I find that explanation somewhat questionable, since patents last 20 years.


Unless Disney owns them
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Re: [2012-April-16] Graphing calculators

Postby theseum » Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:39 pm

The reason the prices don't come down is that the only reason people buy a TI-83 is because they are required to for school. So, as long as prices aren't so high that they inspire people to complain to the school, it doesn't matter - you don't have any choice in what calculator you buy anyway.
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