High-Tech Heresy

Roxane Googin has renegade tastes, saying Compaq can't get any more screwed up than it already is, and Intel's stuck in a range.
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Zero, My Hero

SAN FRANCISCO -- During last week's

back and forth about

Open Source, I raised the specter of PC prices going to zero (as in 'nada, nunca, nil'). Late Friday, I caught up with Roxane Googin, who first elucidated the theory to me a few years ago.

Currently editor of

High Tech Observer

, a "private" newsletter for institutional clients published in Danbury, Conn., Googin believes the decline in PC prices is "going to inexorably happen." However, big companies "adapt," she said, citing

Gateway's

(GTW)

decision to become an ISP as a prime example. (BTW, Gateway rose 4.2% today and announced a 2-for-1 split after the close.)

"As long as you cope, you're OK," she said.

Proving the point, Googin recently put a buy recommendation on

Compaq

(CPQ)

. "Why not?

New management can't screw it up worse than those other morons," she said.

At the same time, it's a "waste of time" to be invested in traditional tech bellwethers such as

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

, Googin said, believing it to be "stuck in a trading range." (Its recent surge notwithstanding.)

"I just stay away," she said. "There are better positioned sectors to be in."

Specifically, Googin is hot for wireless and broadband plays, naming

Advanced Radio Telecom

(ARTT)

as a favorite.

"The company has a national footprint in broadband access, but is not widely followed" by Wall Street, she said, noting it does has heavy venture capital interest.

Advance Radio Telecom's wireless technology allows data transfer at 100 megabyte per second vs. 6 for DSL "on a good day," Googin said.

The stock, which fell 6% to 8 15/16 today, has been unduly swept up in concerns about recent

FCC

rulings on payments for universal access, she claimed. "It's a brave new world and you can get this company cheap right now."

P.S.

Regarding the Open Source issue, Googin compared the "Wintel" juggernaut to

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

, which got "gutted" by

Toyota

and peers in the 1970s.

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

has this big, expensive, overly fancy OS and it's leaving this total market for someone else to come up under," she said.

As prices for other components have fallen (i.e. plummeted) in recent years, the operating system is now the "most expensive part" of a PC, Googin observed. "You'll see the first Open Source PCs within a year. That will cause people to get interested."

The analyst/newsletter writer mentioned

Corel

(CORL)

as a potential beneficiary of the Open Source movement, as did

TSC

reporter Medora Lee's

story today. Corel rose 18% today.

Finally, several readers took umbrage to the idea

Linux

is not as supported or stable as

Windows

. One reader pointed us to separate

Web sites offering such

services.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey J. Regan of Pasadena, Calif., who reported Linux has "never" crashed in five years of use, emailed: "As for ... 'response time,' let's try calling MSFT with a question, shall we?"

Hello, Mrs. Gates. Can Billy come to the phone ...?

IPO 2-Cents

In the "me too" spirit, here are some insights on Internet IPOs culled from emails with a buy-side analyst who responded to my mini-tirade last week about banner ads.

"We are seeing a radical shift in pitch stories from companies that come here to pitch their IPOs," he wrote. "No longer is the story 'ad revenue.' It is shifting to 'real product sales revenue' which, as we all know, is on the rise."

The analyst, who requested anonymity for himself and the firm (a biggie, I assure you), reported no letup in the number of Net-related IPOs. (Ben Holmes said much the same in his

commentary.)

The source reported an increased number of IPOs from firms with "some product to offer to customers and are using the Net as a means of distribution. Another surge is in firms that are offering infrastructure-related products, which almost seems like the new mantra."

Yet another competitor for 'buy the dip,' which seems to be losing its luster as the mantra du jour.

TSC Special

In the spirit of the aforementioned,

TSC

reporters

George Mannes

and

Suzanne Kapner

get the nod today for the their tag-team effort on

Looking for a Venture, Net IPOs Turn to Investing Public for Cash. For those keeping score at home, Kapner does get a 1/2-point credit for the "Specialist of the Year" competition, putting her in the lead and making her the

Reggie White

of

TSC

. (For even

more

on Net IPOs, check out

Net IPOs, Step 1: Point Gun at Foot by editor-at-large

Cory Johnson

, who either needs a Yiddish lesson or

really

thinks poorly of Net investors.)

And Finally

Due to the volume of feedback from

Friday's comments on "Squawk Box," the TaskMaster lets the readers have the final say on this most compelling topic:

See Results

Aaron L. Task writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at

taskmaster@thestreet.com.