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Michael Dell Returns to CEO Role at Dell

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  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:15AM (#17840488) Homepage Journal
    On hearing Michael was returning to Dell, a reporter asked Steve Jobs what he would do if given the opportunity to run Dell.

    His reply: [com.com] "What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders,"

    Joking aside, how things have turned around hey? Although to be fair to Dell, prior to getting his CEO role back, Jobs also said about Apple "If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it's worth -- and get busy on the next great thing. The PC wars are over. Done. Microsoft won a long time ago.")
    • Re:Quid Pro Quo? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by djupedal (584558) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:37AM (#17840592)
      "Joking aside, how things have turned around hey? Although to be fair to Dell..."

      Want to be fair? Let's take another look at the Dell business model, shall we?

      The industry works according to many 'rules', one of which is the 80/20 citation, saying between two parties, for every dollar transacted at the end, one party will get 80% and the other 20%.

      As an example, let's say HP sells a monitor, that is actually manufactured by Samsung. HP knows it will garner approx. 80% of every dollar transacted on the final sale. One monitor sold, at a retail price of USD100.00, which Samsung charged HP $50 for, means a profit of USD$50.00. HP knows that after all expenses are paid, they will net 80%, or USD $40.00 out of that USD$50.00. Samsung knows that after all expenses are paid on their end, they will net USD$10.00 (20% out of that USD$50.00 profit on the back).

      As an investor, you typically assume that if you buy HP stock, they will work to maintain that 80% - same with Samsung being expected to negotiate their 20%.

      If you learned that HP was settling for 70% and letting Samsung get away with 30%, you might be less inclined to invest in HP and start throwing money into Samsung instead, right? And if that kept up, it would just be a matter of time before HP went out of business, as it rightly should, under such circumstances.

      Dell, on the other hand, ignores the gentleman's agreed 80/20 and pushes for as much more as they can get...90/10, anyone? 95/5? 100/0...? Been there, seen that.

      Substitute Dell for HP in the above, and then consider...what happens? Dell is a GREAT company and investors love the ROI. Samsung, on the other hand, needs to tread lightly - perhaps it can afford to participate at 90/10 for a short time, hoping that Dell will eventually back off and both sides can move towards a profit balance, but if Samsung continues and doesn't pay attention, it soon starts to collapse. Can't pay bills or negotiate decent contracts with suppliers...investors start walking away. Samsung dies because Dell hollowed them out.

      This is the Dell model. Hollow out your suppliers and when one dies, move to another. Scorched earth 21st century style. Nice for Dell, right? Not in the long run, because the day will come when there are either no more suppliers to kill, or no supplier will do business with them. Both of those have happened, and that is where we are today.

      Dell is dead, period, as we know it. Maybe Micheal should consider selling sugared water :) I'd rather he stayed away from business altogether.
      • Re:Quid Pro Quo? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:51AM (#17840658) Homepage Journal
        Let me preface my reply by saying I've never bought Dell and don't like Dells (but nor particularly dislike them).

        But the business model you describe of butchering your suppliers sounds like wal-mart. And they're not going anywhere.

        Dell's problem is not their business model, but others copying their business model. (apple?)
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by djupedal (584558)
          "...others copying their business model. (apple?)

          Back in the day, Apple had the lead by being able to shorten the time between when a product was made and when it hit the buyer to as little as 8 days in the pipe. This amazed Compaq and HP, who found it hard to get below 15~17 days.

          Dell copied Apple, and when things changed and the typical increment that most enjoyed went back up to around 12 days in the pipe, Dell, due to the pressure put on suppliers, managed as little as 5 days. Now, everyone is sel
        • Re:Quid Pro Quo? (Score:5, Informative)

          by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @05:13AM (#17840772)
          Wal-mart plays hardball with suppliers (I've worked with them personally), but it understands it's place, just as the supplier knows theirs.

          Dell outright butchers suppliers. There is indeed a difference. I suggest looking up both "symbiotic" and "parasitic" on Wikipedia.

          • Re:Quid Pro Quo? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Heembo (916647) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @06:00AM (#17840990) Journal
            Yea, there is a better way. Take a look at Cosco. They demand that you as a supplier play by a few bulk rules, but otherwise I was SHOCKED to see them pay a very fair price for goods, not to mention they take care of their employees reasonably well; much better than the likes of WalMart. Research Cosco's and others business practices, there is a better way.
            • by udderly (890305) *
              To be fair, Costco competes with the club store branch of Walmart, which is Sam's Club. I believe employees at Sam's Club are paid more than those at Walmart stores.

              But to your point, it is possible to be a profitable company and not abuse your employees and suppliers. Trader Joes [traderjoes.com] is a privately held grocery store/health food store company that pays employees far above the industry average [workforce.com]. Also, many suppliers like to do business with TJs, since they pay in cash, instead of stretching out the supplier f
              • by jb.hl.com (782137)
                The John Lewis Partnership [wikipedia.org] are similar in the UK. They're a department store and supermarket group who are wholly owned by their employees, as such giving them various democratic rights and a lot of say in how the business is run. Suppliers are treated well, and the supermarket division have school-building projects and such in countries which supply their fruit.

                As for profit, well, the dept. stores were pretty much the only stores in the UK which actually increased sales last Christmas IIRC...

                (Disclaimer:
              • by PeelBoy (34769)
                I've known several people who worked for Sam's Club and NONE of them had a single good thing to say about that place. I think they might have made more than somebody working at Walmart but it obviously wasn't enough to put up with the way they were treated.
          • by PeelBoy (34769)
            I've been hearing this for YEARS and honestly Dell doesn't look like they're dying to me. The last time I heard somebody tell me this was about 6 years ago and none of the guys predictions came even close to what he described would be happening by now.

            As for Dell butchering suppliers.. We all know it's happening but I've yet to see all of these bad things people keep predicting. Intel seems to be doing fine as well as Microsoft and Nvidia, ATI and all of the other suppliers seem to be doing OK. (The ones wh
        • by Khuffie (818093)
          Let me preface my reply by saying I've never bought Dell and don't like Dells

          Considering your username, that's not surprising ;)

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Lumpy (12016)
          Here's what happens. Most corporations use DELL or HP for their IT supplies. Some of the enlightened ones use IBM or other sources, but most have fallen to Dell's sales people's promises and selected Dell as their supplier for IT.

          Here is the problem, when I worked at my last job we would buy Lattitude laptops by the thousands. Yes, an order of 1000 or more laptops is considered normal. The pricing we would get would be silly. WE were paying what you would pay if you went online and bough the same item
          • by dcam (615646)
            Dell has this retarded sales model where they segment the market into home, small business and large business. This means they charge more to their business customers. To get the same price as Joe average consumer pays you have to fight them for a discount. And when you have to fight for a discount you never quite know if you have pushed them enough.

            They also sell substantially the same products and don't differentiate them well.
        • by soft_guy (534437)

          But the business model you describe of butchering your suppliers sounds like wal-mart.
          Actually, it sounds a lot like Commodore. They would pay their suppliers very slowly, and then if a supplier got into financial trouble, they would stop paying them altogether and let them go bankrupt, then swoop in and buy the supplier for cheap and then forgive their own debt. That's how Jack Tramiel destroyed the lower end of the personal computer industry.
      • by mccalli (323026)
        Want to be fair? Let's take another look at the Dell business model, shall we?...This is the Dell model. Hollow out your suppliers and when one dies, move to another. Scorched earth 21st century style. Nice for Dell, right? Not in the long run, because the day will come when there are either no more suppliers to kill, or no supplier will do business with them. Both of those have happened, and that is where we are today.

        For further information, see Jack Tramiel and style and fate of Commodore. Sounds iden
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Not in the long run, because the day will come when there are either no more suppliers to kill, or no supplier will do business with them.
        This is just dumb, before it gets to this point the supplier will simply demand more money and Dell will either have to take it or leave it. By the way, Samsung is doing great.
        • Re:Quid Pro Quo? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by djupedal (584558) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @07:52AM (#17841552)
          "...before it gets to this point the supplier will simply demand more money and Dell will either have to take it or leave it."

          Oh if it were only that simple of a game :)

          Here is how it actually goes... The supplier's people start yammering to themselves about cutting bad customers loose, and it's up to the sales guys to run point and try to force the buyer to put up or walk. The buyer, however, eats sales staff for snack - a quick smile and "Look, do it our way all this year, and next year, if you pull all tens on the appraisals, you can name your price for a change. We will even put it in writing." So, the sales guys cave and spend the next year biting their nails and drinking themselves into a pain-free state. They move on...time moves on. New sales guys come into the fray and when supplier appraisals come out, just prior to refreshing contracts, the numbers don't quite make it & the process repeats and so does the gutting by Dell. Note that this does not go unnoticed by the higher-ups on the supplier side, however. Someone mentions they should cut Dell loose and let them cut down a competitor for a while, but...an SVP comments "...there is perhaps some value in sales being chewed on as long as the competition can't claim Dell as a customer - try your best to keep the blood-letting to a minimum and do what needs to be done to secure a contract renewal". The sales devision takes another beating while R & D gets to enjoy...oh look! Money! Dell investment on the side!

          Point is, business does not have to be so brutal. Both sides can come out ahead on all counts without cocking the pistols and clubbing each other as a routine.

          "By the way, Samsung is doing great."

          Duh - what I gave was a simple enough scenario to serve point-making...hardly detailed reality. Anyone dumb enough to not see that _should_ be anonymous :)

          And again, it's not that simple. Samsung has many divisions, from Finance to SDI, etc. Samsung Electronics covers monitors and TVs, while the memory guys get all the attention. Samsung as a whole IS doing great and will continue for years, but there will always be one division trailing another. That's why the TV division, after being on it's own for 15 years and stagnant, was folded into Monitors a few years back. Funny thing that, since Monitors were split off from the TV division back in the '80s, when Samsung first made those little monochrome displays for something called a Macintosh, that wasn't a TV at all, and no one was sure it was even worth a look :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        or its the fact that there's less profit in computers?

        You can buy a Dell for $359. $52.50 for Windows and $200 for parts leaves around $100 a computer for warranty work and employees. Compare this to ten years ago, where you'd have a lot more money after Windows and parts.
      • Inaccurate (Score:3, Informative)

        by nevesis (970522)
        Interesting post.. but it seems inaccurate to me.

        For example, Dell has been using motherboards manufactured under the Intel brand name by Foxconn since as far back as I can remember. They've been using Lite-On optical drives, and various power supplies -- often HiPro. All of these companies are still in business and doing quite well (better than Dell even).

        I do think that Dell shot themselves in the foot, however in an entirely different matter. Dell started the PC price wars. The competition followed t
        • by djupedal (584558)
          All of these companies are still in business and doing quite well (better than Dell even)

          Today, sure - but that doesn't mean there wasn't blood on the saddle 5 or 6 years ago. Today's Foxconn/Lite-On isn't yesterday's, by no means. Been there...seen, tasted, smelled and worked that.

          And for every tier 1, hardened survivor, there are dozens of tier 2 & 3 corpses (the true little guys that can't be seen in FoxConn or Samsung's shadow). It's just not as simple as it appears in a rear-view mirror :) No
      • Re:Quid Pro Quo? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jcr (53032) <jcrNO@SPAMmac.com> on Thursday February 01, 2007 @10:05AM (#17843120) Journal
        This is the Dell model. Hollow out your suppliers and when one dies, move to another.

        That may be the Dell model, but there's one supplier they can't do that to, and that's Microsoft. The bulk of the profit on any PC these days goes to Redmond, and there just isn't enough margin available for the hardware makers to afford quality.

        -jcr

        • The bulk of the profit on any PC these days goes to Redmond, and there just isn't enough margin available for the hardware makers to afford quality.

          That is nonsense. There are plenty of quality PC makers out there selling PCs bundled with MS products.

          Asus is one good example... They make great laptops.

          Just because there's low end PCs doesn't spoil the entire PC range.
          • by jcr (53032)
            There are plenty of quality PC makers out there

            That assertion tells me that you're rather young, or that you have a short memory. At the time that I left the PC world for the Mac (1984), you could buy PCs from HP, DEC, IBM, Grid, and many other suppliers that were built like tanks.

            Go on down to a surplus store sometime, and have a look at a Compaq, DEC Rainbow or TI PC from the mid-80's. That was some serious quality construction, and it was possible back when a manufacturer was able to make 25% gross mar
            • You seem to imply in this post that Dell/Gateway's rush for the bottom caused the loss of quality in the home computer market (I'd generally agree with this, although I think it's a problem faced by the wider Consumer Electronics market rather than just PCs).

              But your original post seemed to imply that it was MS's margins responsible for the lack of quality in the PC world.

              Which is it?
              • by jcr (53032)
                These are not mutually exclusive. With Microsoft rendering real differentiation impossible, the race to the bottom was a foregone conclusion. It was going to happen eventually, whether it was Dell or some other company that started it. Now, with the lion's share of the profit in the industry going to Microsoft, all that windows users can look forward to is stagnation.

                -jcr

                • the race to the bottom was a foregone conclusion. It was going to happen eventually,

                  If that's the case, then why has their also been a slide in the quality of hardware from companies that don't rely on MS (Sun, Apple)?

                  I think blaming MS for the slide in PC quality (and prices) is somewhat naive of you. It ignores the fact that hardware quality is sliding everywhere (Unix Servers, non-windows PCs, stereos, TVs, everything)
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by operagost (62405)
        It is official; Netcraft confirms: Dell is dying

        One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered Dell community when IDC confirmed that Dell market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that Dell has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. Dell is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last in the recent
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Isn't this the point of a free market? You actually think suppliers should set their own prices? You must LOVE the phone company!

        Running each supplier down to the lowest cost they will sell at is business. If you're not doing it, you're hurting yourself. If a supplier can't beat costs, either he is inefficient compared to his competitor, or his competitor is taking a loss. Either way, what would I care, as a purchaser, what the story is? How do I even know?
        • by evilviper (135110)

          If a supplier can't beat costs, either he is inefficient compared to his competitor, or his competitor is taking a loss.
          ...OR he's spending more on quality parts, to make halfway decent equipment that won't catch fire after running for a few hours...

          • Having worked as a HW designer for a while, I am certain there is no relationship between price, brand name, and quality. Right out of school, I used to think "Screw it, just use ". Yet , one of the more reputable DRAM vendors that most engineers would choose if they had no price concerns, had one product that began to fail at higher end temps (well within spec) with a particular chipset, while ALL other vendors tried, did NOT fail, and while other factors under consideration (SI, etc.) were within spec she
            • by evilviper (135110)

              Having worked as a HW designer for a while, I am certain there is no relationship between price, brand name, and quality.

              I agree that higher price doesn't mean higher quality parts. However, the inverse is usually true... The very cheapest parts are almost always crap.

              Specs are nice, but like anything else, it's often cheaper for suppliers to over-promise, and take the gamble on having to pay up later...

              That's the real difference between PC's and Apples

              Where's DEC when you need them?

      • by dfghjk (711126)
        Even if your unsubstantiated premise is true, which it's most likely close enough, there is no reason to believe, and you've offered no evidence to support, your conclusion. What it boils down to is that Dell is a tough negotiator with its suppliers, it not only gets favorable deals but it also gets favorable terms, and that's just good, hard-nosed business. It's suppliers are responsible for negotiating deals that are good for their businesses and if they don't do so it's their own fault. Dell won't hav
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by suv4x4 (956391)
      Jobs also said about Apple "If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it's worth -- and get busy on the next great thing. The PC wars are over. Done. Microsoft won a long time ago."

      Funny right.. and this is exactly what he's doing. On his last presentation they dropped the "Computers" part of their name, and it's more and more obvious they are MOVING (not EXPANDING) into consumer electronics.

      The Macs are now PC's which can run Windows as well... Maybe we'll see in few years OSX as a platfo
    • by eshefer (12336)
      > Jobs also said about Apple "If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it's worth -- and
      > get busy on the next great thing"

      which is EXACTLY what he did and is doing now..

    • by Chapter80 (926879)
      I think it's time for Dell to sell out to HP.

      HP, the absorber of the losers in the computer wars:

      • Apollo 4/89
      • AT&T UNIX Development Team 1996
      • Compaq 5/02
      • Convex 9/95
      • Data Systems (from Union Carbide) 1966
      • DEC (Compaq) 5/02
      • Microcom (Compaq) 3/97
      • Tandem (Compaq) 5/02
      • Texas Instruments Data Systems Group 10/92
      • VoodooPC 9/06
  • obligatory (Score:4, Funny)

    by macadamia_harold (947445) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:28AM (#17840552) Homepage
    It looks like Michael Dell is jumping back into the big chair at Dell because his company is slipping under the direction of Kevin Rollins.

    Dude, Dell's gettin' a Dell.
  • well (Score:4, Funny)

    by CalSolt (999365) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:35AM (#17840584)
    It worked for Apple, didn't it...?
  • by Centurix (249778) <centurixNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:38AM (#17840596) Homepage
    dPod
    dPhone
    dBook

    etc...
  • by freedom_india (780002) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:42AM (#17840622) Homepage Journal
    The first priority of Michael Dell should be to improve Dell's lousy customer service and in-source it to US again.
    If you are selling PC's by mail-orders (sort of), you better have more than good customer service that customers can depend on.
    Even a premium corporate customer care at Dell su8ks big time.
    Apple's phenomenal customer support is the main reason iPod and iMac's still rock.
    If i call Apple and am under warranty, the dude am talking to knows the business and take me step-by-step to solve the problem. (am not even comparing store-based support, since Dell doesn't have many stores to sell from).

    If Michael Dell can bring customer support back to what it was long back, then am sure Dell will rock.
    Corporates love Dell because of its uniform ugly black boxen.

    My bank switched to HP after Dell's customer support was unresponsive for the last time....
    And also ditch the Dell DJ Music Player. Seriously.

    To plagarise Jobs: "Move on from MP3 players. The battle was won long back by Apple.".

    Get back to core business of assembling high-quality PCs and phenomenal customer service.

    Is that difficult Mr.Dell?

     
    • by Speed Pour (1051122) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @05:09AM (#17840742)

      The first priority of Michael Dell should be to improve Dell's lousy customer service and in-source it to US again.
      Yeah, he's one of the earlier adopters of outsourcing customer support. I hate to say it, but I seriously doubt he's going to reverse that particular decision.

      I worked for Dell briefly, an experience I'll be happy not to repeat. The entire company is very shareholder-centric. I really doubt we're going to see a terribly different Dell from what we saw about 5 years ago. They are still going to build dirt-cheap machines for the 'lowest common denominator' people and they are still going to operate with the previously mentioned 'scorched earth' policy towards their hardware suppliers.

      I'm pretty certain that Michael Dell is being brought back to keep the stockholders happy and to attempt to restore the image. Few people will remember that he made the company the way it is, and I feel that Kevin Rollins is taking the scapegoat role.

      Long gone are the days when Dell computers were the reliable ones that you spent a couple extra hundred on because they really were that good. This is the reason Dell bought Alienware, to try to regain the image of quality machines.

      Also, IMHO, I have to agree with another poster as well, most Dell-branded products were pretty horrible. Axim line was alright and the LCD's were pretty good, everything else (including the computers) was pretty poor. Again, just my feelings on 'em...
    • by ulysees (15761) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @05:36AM (#17840882)
      Am I the only one who finds Dell support better than other vendors ?

      I've actually migrated large accounts from HP, IBM & Fujitsu to Dell because of the lack of support from those vendors.
      I know it is different for individual users but for large businesses all of my support is provided by native English speakers in the same country as me. On rare occasions you will get an engineer that is 'lacking' but most of the time it's someone who can understand what you are saying and will either identify the problem or book the service call if you've already done the technical troubleshooting.

      Am I the only customer with this experience ???
      • If you get through the business/gold support then its fine. Its the call center stuff that is dire.

        For example my latest dealings with Dell support. Machine keeps crashing, after 2 weeks on their support website and MS site I done all the investigation to prove its a hardware issue. Their response is "reformat the machine". I tell them I have already done this and run the dell diagnostics and supplied them the info. Not good enough have to jump through the hoops again.

        So I do, and told motherboard is broken
      • by drinkypoo (153816)
        Frankly I've had the best luck with Gateway. I worked for Yuba College for a while and we had pretty much all gateways. Some of the hardware was crap (just one series mostly, ALL the optical drives eventually failed) but gateway is quite gracious about replacing your parts if you know what you're doing. You just tell them "I did some testing blah blah blah" and they send you new parts. Or at least, they sent 'em to me... :) Also their machines tend to be very easy to deal with. Even the all-in-one type syst
      • by dcam (615646)
        Yes.

        I wanted to schedule a couple of drives being added to a server.
        a) They got me the wrong parts (which meant two visits from a tech)
        b) It took 2 months for the whole process
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      > The first priority of Michael Dell should be to
      > improve Dell's lousy customer service

      Agreed! All my dealings with Dell this is the single point where I have always had negative dealings with Dell.

      > and in-source it to US again.

      That may not always make it better. The problem with Dells support isn't that it is in India. It is that for the home users we get a "call center" rather then a "technical support center". There is a huge difference. Call Centers hire the lowest common denominator thats sk
    • by MojoStan (776183)

      The first priority of Michael Dell should be to improve Dell's lousy customer service and in-source it to US again.

      Dell may have already started this for some models. The first banner at the top of Dell's OptiPlex Desktops page [dell.com] now says: "BUILT HERE. SUPPORTED HERE. OptiPlex desktops include North American-based technical support." I don't know if any other lines have North American-based support for non-corporate customers.

      Corporates love Dell because of its uniform ugly black boxen.

      If you missed it, in November 2003 Dell moved their corporate support for OptiPlex and Latitude back to the USA from India [cnn.com] after complaints.

      Apple's phenomenal customer support is the main reason iPod and iMac's still rock.

      I don't know if I'd call it "phenomenal," but I like kno

    • by timeOday (582209)

      If Michael Dell can bring customer support back to what it was long back, then am sure Dell will rock.

      Yes, I wonder what his priorities are?

      I think it will be interesting to watch Dell going into the future, to see if the CEO is all that important. It's always hard to separate leadership qualities from the circumstances. Is Dell's current CEO part of the problem? I don't know. But HP has adopted many of Dell's successful tactics, and that is definately a problem (for Dell).

    • by ehiris (214677)
      I have to disagree with you on the customer support. Actually the customer support at Dell has been great for me. At my company we used to have IBM support our desktops and they were terrible compared to Dell.

      Where I believe Dell has huge problems is that their servers are pretty lame and their strong-point which was initially the desktops/laptops market has been neglected.

      A few examples of why I believe this are things like cutting corners by using one year warranty hard drives in laptops they give out 3 y
    • by klubar (591384)
      Actually, recently I've had good experiences with Dell service. The calls are answered within 2 minutes by a native English speaker. They no longer torture you to reformat multiple times. The next-day service is almost always next day. Their model is that the call center diagnoses the problem and the repair guy just replaces the part. The repair guy should not have to do anything other than replace the part.

      We have signed up for Gold service, which is probably an extra $50.

      Recently I had an experienc
    • Dell recently opened a 1200-employee call center in Ottawa [dell.com]. Hopefully more North American call centers will follow.
  • by Bananatree3 (872975) * on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:47AM (#17840646)
    While this may be one sided of me, I find the proprietization that Dell has dealt with is annoying not just to me, but to many independent computer repair people when things break (and especially when computers with recently-expired warranties break, ohhh lawrdy!)

    While yes, proprietary hardware is a shrewd business tactic, and it brings in more revenue stream, it is quite contrary to the hardware industry standard. It is one of the sole reasons I stay clear from dell hardware, and I am probably not the only techie to do so because of proprietization of the hardware.

    • it is the solereason I steer clear of dell hardware if I can help it.
      • by Glonoinha (587375)
        Which part is proprietary?
        They are even using regular power-supplies now, bringing them into standardization on every part I know of inside the machine.

        Don't get me wrong, I'm not happy with the direction they have gone at a corporate / sales level, but proprietary parts hasn't been an issue on machines I buy from Dell in a few years now.
    • What? I've replaced the power supply, installed an additional hard drive, DVD+/-RW drive, and a graphics card and TV card in my Dell PC. Oh, and upgraded the memory twice.

      My sister now has my "Proprietary" PSU in her computer I made from pretty standard parts.

      • My sister now has my "Proprietary" PSU in her computer I made from pretty standard parts.

        His information was dated. Dell used to reverse the polarity on their power supplies (IIRC) so that a COTS one wouldn't work and it would damage other boards if you tried your trick. I remember a friend just re-connecting the wires on a standard PSU to get a Dell back to life.
    • While yes, proprietary hardware is a shrewd business tactic, and it brings in more revenue stream, it is quite contrary to the hardware industry standard. It is one of the sole reasons I stay clear from dell hardware, and I am probably not the only techie to do so because of proprietization of the hardware.

      Yep. I battled with a Dell PE2650 with a PERC 3Di controller which never really worked under Linux 2.6 (it couldn't keep up with the faster I/O without going offline). Trying to retrofit another SCSI co
  • Reboot ? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rastignac (1014569) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:53AM (#17840662)
    Now, Michael Dell is the "Dell main director" guy. Kevin Rollins was just a temporary alternative. So, Kevin Rollins was the "Dell alt control" guy. Alt+control+del=reboot. So he is gone now. ;)
  • Dell's problem (Score:2, Interesting)

    There is little of R&D and added value in Dell products. After all, building a PCs and pre-installing HDD with useless crap is not rocket science. I don't see much oportunities for Dell in the future, unless they invent completely new product-area compatible with internet-world we all live in already. They are basically in the same position as pre-iPod Apple. My take: SELL.
    • by Nasarius (593729)

      They are basically in the same position as pre-iPod Apple.
      That's a strange comparison. Apple produces a ton of quality, unique software. They aren't interchangeable with hundreds of other PC builders like Dell is.
    • by AlXtreme (223728)

      There is little of R&D and added value in Dell products. After all, building a PCs and pre-installing HDD with useless crap is not rocket science.

      But Dell isn't after rocket science, its goal isn't to do R&D. Just like Walmart isn't going to offer top-cuisine, Dell isn't going to improve the computer. What made Dell big is selling computers dirt-cheap via the internet. Many people simply don't even look around to find a better deal, if they need a PC they go to Dell.

      My take is that the bloatware

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 01, 2007 @05:15AM (#17840786)
    Ok, ignoring umpteen dozen levels of complexity, I'd like to focus on one particular thing that Dell could do to stop losing customers at an epic rate.

    For the love of god, stop loading up PCs with useless bloatware.

    I've actually been buying Dells for a couple of yeaes now. My laptop and my last two desktops have both come from them. Since my student days ended and I got a job, I've found myself relatively cash rich but time poor. As a result of this, I've lost the patience I used to have for building my own PCs and ironing out the kinks and have come to appreciate the option of paying a little more to have somebody do it for me, while still being able to pick which components I want. I take it for granted that when I buy a new PC from Dell, it will, out of box, be slow, unstable and full of 30 day trials for software that only a gibbering moron could ever want to use. I therefore backup the drivers folder, format the hard disk and reinstall XP (I find that the amount of crap Dell are bundling is growing so fast that even the decrappifier doesn't cut it any more).

    However, this is not the experience that a lot of people are looking for when they buy a new PC and many people don't have a clue how to go about reinstalling an operating system. All they know is that their new Dell PC, which they've probably paid slightly over the going rate for, is slow as hell, to the point of being painful to use. The further from the cutting edge the system you buy, the worse the problem seems to be, as Dell give no thought to performance in deciding which particular crap to inflict - they just pile it all on.

    Case in point - my parents bought a new laptop last year, to keep in a villa they own. It's only going to be used for 6-10 weeks each year, for web-browsing and a few basic office-type apps. Therefore, they picked up one of the bargain-basement Inspirons. A few days later, I get a call asking for help with it. This laptop (a Centrino 1.4, if I remember, with 512 RAM) was taking *6 minutes* to start up completely from the moment you hit the power switch. Fortunately, I was able to talk them through reinstalling XP over the phone, at which point the startup time came down to about 90 seconds.
    Not everybody is going to have access to somebody who can talk them through this. In most cases, people are just going to make a note never to buy another Dell again. I fail to see how the small premium that Dell gets paid for crippling its systems like this can even vaguely resemble a valid long-term strategy.
    • by the_womble (580291) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @05:44AM (#17840920) Homepage Journal
      1) Dells gets paid for placing the bloatware: it keeps the price down and boosts their margins.
      2) Lots of people ARE gibbering idiots.
      3) Many people have low expectations of PCs
      4) They are quite likely to blame software problems on MS anyway.
      5) Corporate buyers will do a clean re-install anyway.
      6) Home users will probably have the machine just as bloated with malware in a week anyway. The is the reason for 3 above.
      • by hackstraw (262471) *
        1) Dells gets paid for placing the bloatware: it keeps the price down and boosts their margins.
        2) Lots of people ARE gibbering idiots.
        3) Many people have low expectations of PCs
        4) They are quite likely to blame software problems on MS anyway.
        5) Corporate buyers will do a clean re-install anyway.
        6) Home users will probably have the machine just as bloated with malware in a week anyway. The is the reason for 3 above.


        All of this is true*. Its sad that there apparently is no profit in a mass produced consumer
    • by jonwil (467024)
      What I want to know is why Microsoft (who ends up being blamed when crapware pre-installed by Dell or HP or Compaq or whoever makes the system run like a dog) isn't putting more pressure on OEM's not to install this crap.

      If Microsoft told the big OEM's that they had to stop installing this crap or risk being charged more for windows (or whatever penalty Microsoft uses with them when they do something MS doesn't like), the OEM's would have no choice but to comply. Microsoft would win because they don't get t
      • by benzapp (464105)
        Vista seriously controls this stuff - there is an entire application that blocks/regulates startup programs automagically.

        This is one of the many problems that Vista rectifies.
  • The problem with Dell is that they have a reputation for the cheapest machines around. Yes, they have the XPS line and Alienware but those are not where the volume is. Most of their traffic is in the cheap end of the scale where they make pretty much no money and people are always trying to game the system to get even cheaper kit. This is not sustainable. They need to up the price on their lowest cost systems and improve the quality as well as reduce the number of options.

    Oh, and stop putting stupid blu
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Completely wrong. Dell's largest customer base is enterprises and government. The consumer buying is a much smaller percentage of all Dell's sales.
    • by dave420 (699308)
      I got my wife one of those XPS 17" notebooks. The first thing I did was turn off all those ridiculous LEDs. They're great notebooks - they have better screens than the 17" apple notebooks, faster hard disks, and better graphics cards too.
  • by SnowWolf2003 (692561) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @06:15AM (#17841056)
    The register has an interesting analysis on what this actually means. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/02/01/dell_brain _one/ [theregister.co.uk]

    In summary, nothing, as Michael Dell has been actively involved in all decisions anyway, and is at least equally responsible for Dell's downfall.
    • In summary, nothing, as Michael Dell has been actively involved in all decisions anyway, and is at least equally responsible for Dell's downfall.

      But investors won't read the Reg article and will likely stop selling for a while because they think Dell is going to do a turn-around. And that has real value - after all, it's a public company - they're in the business of stock price as much as computers.

      I think the real problem is computers are about as cheap as they can be without redefining what goes into a c
  • by kcbrown (7426) <slashdot@sysexperts.com> on Thursday February 01, 2007 @07:00AM (#17841290)

    Just once I wish some large manufacturer somewhere would adopt the stance that HP used to have, back when Hewlett and Packard were running the show. Back before Queen Bitch of the Universe took over:

    Uncompromising quality.

    Damn near everything they did was done right, and when it wasn't, they went to great lengths to fix it.

    Quality costs money, but you know what? I buy for the long term. I'd rather pay 2-3x up front for something that'll last a lifetime. I'll do that even for equipment that might be obsolete in 5 years because at least I'll know that it simply won't fail in those 5 years because it's built right.

    Computers are harder to do that way, of course, because of the rapid pace of technological advancement, but a good design could make replacement of those bits easy while allowing you to retain the rest. Things like keyboards, mice, cases, power supplies, etc. can be built solid and built to last a very long time because the technology behind them doesn't really change much. As an example, I'm sure many of us here still make use of old IBM buckling-spring keyboards, the kind that are 15+ years old and work as well now as they did when they were new. That's the kind of quality I'm talking about.

    And yet, you basically can't find anyone who builds things that well anymore. It's not "profitable" or some such crap. But I say that's bullshit. HP managed to get away with it until its founders let go of the reins. They had their up times and down times during the reign of their founders, but their customers were loyal because HP could be relied upon to do it right.

    Maybe I'm just looking at things through rose colored glasses, but I still have my HP 41CX and 11C calculators as proof that the equipment they built really was built to last. But who builds things that way these days? Nobody I know of. Not even HP.

    That's something that I think needs to change. I just wish someone would step up to the plate...

    • Quality costs money, but you know what? I buy for the long term. I'd rather pay 2-3x up front for something that'll last a lifetime. I'll do that even for equipment that might be obsolete in 5 years because at least I'll know that it simply won't fail in those 5 years because it's built right.

      I understand the sentiment, but I won't pay much more at this point. I turn over laptops every 18-24 months, and *for my needs* it's just not worth putting too much extra in for a better built unit. Others will of cou
    • That's something that I think needs to change. I just wish someone would step up to the plate...

      You're only going to get that from some place that's not run as a public company by a fleet of low-rent MBA's. When you have three hundred nattering nabobs walking around saying "We've got to drive the cost out of this thing" you get what we have today. It's made worse when the items are commoditized. HP used to be run by the engineers, but not any more. You see where that got you.

      If you step out of the commo
  • Distorted Visions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jekler (626699) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @07:21AM (#17841364)
    I think one of the reasons Dell has been slipping (and I believe it has a lot to do with many corporate failures) is that the executives forget what made the company successful in the first place. The company has become so wrapped up in acquisitions, promotions, and partnerships that they forgot all about building computers. They no longer ask themselves "Which components would make this PC powerful and affordable?" Instead they ask "Which components can we build a computer from, using only our partners' components, that will not compete with any of our other divisions, and is consistent with this month's slogan?" It's a lot like Microsoft. At a certain point they got so wrapped up in their ISP (MSN), web sites, content portals, partnerships, search engines, the whole idea of building an actual Operating System was completely beyond them. For all the jokes people made about Windows back with Win 3.1 and Windows 95, all of it would have been forgotten if they had kept their eye on the prize. Instead, they get distracted by every trend, buzzword, and internet start-up that happens by. Dell has the money, reputation, and manpower to build great computers. Unfortunately they lack the all-consuming vision that makes a company succeed to start with.
  • . . . and reinstall Windows.

    Everyone knows that fixes ANYTHING that's wrong with a Dell - just ask their customer support team!

  • Dell Hell (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chromozone (847904)
    I bought my first Dell product in November and I could see Dell had some real problems. I bought a well reviewed and highly regarded 2007WFP monitor for $400. After buying it I read that Dell is using a "panel lottery" and they swapped out the Philips S-IPS panel for a Samsung S-PVA that is quite inferior. Many people were upset by this because the swap really made it a different monitor since S-IPS and S-PVA have different characteristics and many photographers and graphics pros seek out the S-IPS. Dell's
  • by jonwil (467024) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @09:27AM (#17842582)
    1.Don't assume all customers are idiots, especially when they call for support.

    2.Hire technical support people that know something about computers. And let them have the power to do real technical support instead of insisting that they follow the checklists.

    3.Don't use proprietary hardware. More specifically, all components inside the machines should be standard as much as possible (for example, use standard PSUs with standard pinouts and not proprietary ones with custom DELL pinouts). Would make it easier for DELL to just switch suppliers if they e.g. decided that brand x power supplies sucked and brand y were better. This gives DELL negotiation power over suppliers (whereas if they had a custom PSU, the company that makes them has more leverage since the costs to have another company continue to make the custom PSU are expensive relatively speaking)

    4.This also extends to software. Do not use any proprietary drivers. All hardware should use the same drivers as you would use if you bought the hardware in a box from a retail store. All drivers should have separate installers included directly with the machine and/or be available to download from the web site such that it is possible to install a normal non DELL non OEM copy of Windows on the DELL machine and not have hardware that wont work right because the only way to get the drivers is to install the special DELL version of windows.

    5.Tone down the crap that is pre-installed. All spyware should be removed completely. All demos and time limited software should have uninstall options and also any limitations in the software (such as anti-virus programs with shorter subscription lengths than retail boxed copies have) should be clearly documented.
    • "Don't assume all customers are idiots, especially when they call for support"
      Every helpdesk I had the mispleasure of calling is guilty of that. "Don't use proprietary hardware"
      The PSU is my brother's Dimension 4600 desktop (purchased in late 2003) failed and we replaced it with an off-the-shelf 450-watt unit. Works fine. "Tone down the crap that is pre-installed"
      Amen to that. The Dimensions I mentioned above had so much crap preinstalled, it certainly didn't feel like it was powered by a Pentium4. It'
      • "Don't assume all customers are idiots, especially when they call for support"
        Every helpdesk I had the mispleasure of calling is guilty of that.

        "Don't use proprietary hardware"
        The PSU is my brother's Dimension 4600 desktop (purchased in late 2003) failed and we replaced it with an off-the-shelf 450-watt unit. Works fine.

        "Tone down the crap that is pre-installed"
        Amen to that. The Dimensions I mentioned above had so much crap preinstalled, it certainly didn't feel like it was powered by a Pentiu
    • by owlstead (636356)
      "1.Don't assume all customers are idiots, especially when they call for support."

      The ones that sound promising over the phone normally are your worst nightmare. They tend to do too much their own way, and since 90% of all problems are in the top 10 of problems already known and solved, you want the customer to do *exactly* what you want.

      "2.Hire technical support people that know something about computers. And let them have the power to do real technical support instead of insisting that they follow the chec
    • by StikyPad (445176)
      I wonder what the results would be like if there was a menu option at the beginning of the phone call to rate your technical expertise on a scale from 1-9 (ignoring the 0). 1-3 could go to the call center, 4-6 could go to the 2nd tier, and 7-9 could go directly to scheduling the service call (provided they knew exactly what needed to be done to remedy the problem). Sure, you'd get some idiots punching the wrong number, and you'd get tech experts who forgot to try clearing the BIOS, but I'd wager that on t
  • to just call dell up and say right off the bat, "look i dont want aol free trial, i dont want musicmatch, Dell E Support, or anything else other than win xp because i will not be using any of it." would they just ignore me and not meet my request?

    i dont want all that crap. i am buying from them and therefore i should get the say. i say if someone specifically asked for not to have all that bloat then whats the problem in meeting that?
  • I live in Austin and let me tell you, there are tons of unhappy employees. In recent years, the bureaucratic infighting has really gotten in the way of good business practices, efficiency, and employee satisfaction. If your employees aren't happy, they're certainly not going to provide good customer service, no matter how much you pay them.

    $0.02USD,
    -l
  • Check out this quote from Time magazine's 10 Questions for Michael Dell [time.com], from January 11th:

    Would you take over the day-to-day reins of the company again?

    I'd have to give them up first. I haven't stopped being involved with the company all the time.

    But taking over as CEO?

    No. [CEO Kevin Rollins] and I run the company together. I haven't changed that, and I'm not going to change that.

  • Dell is in a tough spot to be in because there's nothing really "special" about their brand. Apple on the other hand, has an incredible brand awareness and unique style which is something customers don't mind paying a premium for. Since the price of a basic starter PC has come down to around $400, Dell doesn't have much that will differentiate it from white-box competitors, at least in the home PC market. And as other commenters have suggested - their customer service sucks. When you get stuck on the ph
  • Dell's initial wins were due to the built-to-order model that let them reduce their supply chain and inventory costs.

    GateWay and Dell were the first to pitch PCs to the general public this way.

    No Bricks and mortar inventory costs helped too.

    Once Compaq and Hp joined them in the 'race to the bottom' Dell started to lose that early-mover (and pricing)advantage. Notice that IBM bowed out of the PC market at about this time....PCs and to some extent servers have been pretty much commodotized at this point...

    Out
  • When they looked outside, they got to an Indian call center that doesn't meet the userbase's needs. QED, they need to look inside.

There is no opinion so absurd that some philosopher will not express it. -- Marcus Tullius Cicero, "Ad familiares"

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