This is the kind of thing I had in mind at least from the hardware side. It's an HTPC, but the same principles of maximising the performance potential through compact space can be applied to a mid-tower or lanbox:
What I wouldn't hav done - add a $1500 premium over the cost of the parts ... this is definitely targeted at the well heeled.
It's not a viable business model if you take away the "premium"/profit.
The ideal would be to keep the premium at below $200.
All that would do would offset the premium into the costs. You might be able to reduce it a bit because generally unskilled labourers don't realise how much skilled labour is worth, but they'd still have to be trained to assemble PCs which would demand training costs, and wage increases. Plus, you'd need a hardware manufacturer that manufactures everything you want to agree to do this.
Long-term, robots (a truly "automated" assembly line) are more cost effective if you are doing mass production. In the short term, it costs a lot of money to buy the robots and to program them accordingly (not to mention factory space).
There are stop-gap solutions that involve renting time from more generalized factories, but those cost money (and involve making sure the factory owners get their cut as well).
Also: As I expected, even Dell uses the "assembly line with human workers" as well.
There's no easy solution but to me personally that's the only exciting part about setting up a PC brand - exceptional quality (more importantly: performance) with low margins sold at profit for the mass market. Anything else would just be too boring.
But yeah. The problem is that such a product would be targeting "knowledgeable" customers (otherwise you just make a fairly good rig and market it as Alienware or whatever) who could assemble it themselves (or buy the parts and pay someone to assemble it). So you can't charge TOO much on top of it, and your profit margins drop drastically. And for 99%* of the world, they don't need this product. So you can't make up for it in bulk
*: I pulled that number out of my ass, but it is probably close.
For Christmas, I got a new PC case and my mum took apart and reassembled my PC inside it.
And she 'aint no PC techy. If you are knowledgeable enough to know why you want a PC over a console, you're probably knowledgeable enough to find out how to build one. It's really not that hard or even time consuming.
I don't mind the skepticism. Revolutionary products aren't exactly easy to grasp for the casual onlooker.
You hear that Gundato? How does your casualness like THAT?
From your picture, it looks like two video cards mounted on a mobo, a power supply in the upper right, and a few tubes encasing the cables. Nothing spectacular.
Seriously dude, you might want to research the topic. First you thought that an "automated assembly line" with robots was a good idea (it isn't due to the high costs). Now you think you need highly trained individuals to hook up a computer.
The only hard parts to building a computer:
1. Figuring out what parts to buy. This mostly just involves making sure you have a strong enough power supply and that your ram and processor are compatible with your mobo
2. Attaching the processor to the mother board. This is the single "hardest" part
Beyond that, all that is left is:
1. Hooking everything up, which is almost exclusively "insert tab A into slot B"
2. Move stuff out of the way to ensure proper airflow (or don't since the tolerances of most of the stuff you would be using are high enough that the cables shouldn't be an issue)
3. Making sure nothing is exposed so you don't short crap out (again, trivial since all the wires and connectors are insulated)
Congratulations, you have a water-cooled rig.
Do you want a cookie?
Honestly, this shit ain't rocket science.
But if you're gonna flap your gums about the difficulty of a task, at least know your audience. It's getting kind of insulting.