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Michael Dell Returns to CEO Role at Dell

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the hey-dude-you're-back-at-dell dept.

Businesses 165

head_dunce writes "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. I wonder if they should be looking outside the company for new ideas, or if going back to basics is what needs to be done?"

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Dead and gone (-1, Offtopic)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840486)

...the fat lady just finished.

Game over man, GAME OVER!!!!!!

You mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17840982)

Kevin Rollin's employment was Dell-eeted.

sorry, had to do that.

Quid Pro Quo? (4, Funny)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840488)

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? (4, Insightful)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#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? (4, Interesting)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840658)

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:Quid Pro Quo? (2, Interesting)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840702)

"...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 selling commodity and short pipes have a different weight than just a few years ago.

And now we have Dell, stuck in the old ways, no longer willing or able or too proud to follow others, perhaps due to the hollowing out model being their core method, and wham....face down on the mat. That makes them a one trick pony in my book. Bye, bye Dell!

Re:Quid Pro Quo? (4, Informative)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 7 years ago | (#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? (4, Informative)

Heembo (916647) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840990)

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.

Re:Quid Pro Quo? (1)

udderly (890305) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841974)

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 for 90 days or more.

Re:Quid Pro Quo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17841980)

Costco

Fuck.

Re:Quid Pro Quo? (1)

Khuffie (818093) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841956)

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:Quid Pro Quo? (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842170)

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 in single quantity. sorry, but if I was buying 1000 laptops I would demand that I would get pretty darn close to reseller prices and not $10.00 less than full retail.

Dell has good sales people that make sure they keep their marks, I mean customers, in check and take them out for dinner/lunch on a regular basis. I used to have to fight to get Xerox laser printers or HP servers in the building because the Dell sales guy had the CTO so deep in his pocket.

Dell wins because they have an incredible sales team for the big cooperate accounts. THAT is how you win. Not better product, not world class service. Incredibly good sales people.

Re:Quid Pro Quo? (1)

xrobertcmx (802547) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842646)

Funny, that is the exact model that I have been told was used to roll out NT by Microsoft. Woo the execs, and they place the order and force the staff to impliment their decision.

Re:Quid Pro Quo? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17842746)

Your problem is that your CTO is a tool. We get crazy good pricing from Dell (way way way below their advertised prices). You need to bring in the other vendors every couple of years to "reevaluated your current hardware platforms". This is especially effective when you're getting ready to make a very large purchase. Then you bring in Dell, HP and IBM so they beat each other up on price.

Hopefully whoever you're using now (Dell in your case) will come close enough to the other's pricing so you don't have to switch hardware platforms. If not, meh... If the cheapest guy's hardware and support looks decent, just use them instead.

Re:Quid Pro Quo? (1)

XPACT (711220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842812)

I have never owned DELL, except for the fact that someone opened an account with my SSN#. That is right, I have been a victim of Identity Theft. I am trying to fix that as we speak. Now I am threatened to be given to collector agency. How they did allow this to happen at firs place? The computer was not ordered with my name neither on my address and I still have to prove that it wasn't me. Screw you DELL !!!!!!!!!I would never buy a single shit from DELL. Either build my own (now it is even more expensive) or my money go to HP, at least they have some nice lookuing design on their monitors and computer towers . Got one HP1905b (19'' monitor) and a a1600n (AMD X2 CPU) even the mainboard in that HP is made by ASUS.

Re:Quid Pro Quo? (1)

mccalli (323026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840790)

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 identical.

Cheers,
Ian

darn amiga.... (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840966)

its like a long lost love when you were 13yo

Great at that age, but illegal today!

Seriously, amiga was great, and all us amiga geeks should have stoned Prudential to death because its that Ali
guy who killed it.

Maybe microsoft/apple paid millions to kill it. The strong survive, even if the strong are dumb and kill the best.

But 2007, and todays video cards etc... are a trillion times better.

What the amiga guys failed at is not open sourcing the OS back when linux took off, in 1995. People did ask for it.
It was obvious, they just had to pretend they had value.

The true value is in building a market, a WORLD, not the actual world.

The only future amiga has is the embedded world, it can do magic in low ram/cpu speeds which today are 10-100x the speed of 1992 Amigas.

On a past view moment thought.... the amiga hardware was basic, in terms of features and transistors, but it did just enough trickery
to achieve enough magic. It could have been easily copied and enhanced.... i mean seriously is a D2A convert with DMA that hard to make in 1989 ? 2000 gates at most.
Its just that most combos of hardware/software dudes didnt see the benefits.

Re:darn amiga.... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17841274)

Although you may feel a strong urge to do so, it really is not necessary to launch into a long, rambling post about "How Great The Amiga Was(TM)" every time you see someone mention the words "Amiga" or "Commodore" in a Slashdot post. Instead, why not try reading the comment and forming a reply based on the context of the original post? I guess that may require some thought, but I'm sure you can manage if you try hard enough.

Re:Quid Pro Quo? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17840872)

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? (3, Insightful)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Quid Pro Quo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17841814)

Well, I disagree with you somewhat but it appears that you put some thought into this, so maybe you're right. In my view, the approach you describe may work on some Mom&Pop shop but not on a factory with experienced sales stuff. Surely, they've seen it all before, right?

Anyway, I've not bought anything from Dell in... well, ever. So what do I care? It just confirms for me that running GNU/Linux on a commodity hardware you can't go wrong.

Re:Quid Pro Quo? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17840918)

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 (3, Informative)

nevesis (970522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841170)

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 their aggressive pricing, and now the budget PC market (which Dell had cornered) is littered with companies barely surviving on razor thin margins.

Dell attempted to correct themselves: they purchased Alienware, they have put more focus on their higher end models, but frankly, I don't think they'll ever recover unless they re-brand themselves much as Apple has.

Re:Inaccurate (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841632)

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 :) Now, Dell gets to change...or die.

Re:Quid Pro Quo? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17841304)

That's stupid. That's just a variation on the old Wal-Mart is killing their suppliers so they are evil routine. Samsung is a billion dollar company with very smart people running it, as are most of Dell's suppliers. If they can't negiotiate workable deals, they don't belong in business.

Samsung / Dell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17841568)

"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,"

Except Samsung makes the monitors and Dell only buys them and resells. So today Samsung makes $10 and Dell makes $50.
Tomorrow Samsung makes $10 and someone else makes $40.
The day after Samsung makes $10 and someone else makes $20.

Dell adds little value to the product, and that value is easily replaced. Leading to plenty of competition, and driving down the price. Dell only lead the market because they sold direct and so were able to stay a little ahead of the competition.... well at least till the competition does the same thing.

Re:Samsung / Dell (0, Offtopic)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841668)

"Except Samsung makes the monitors and Dell only buys them and resells."

You really think Dell or Samsung or Wal Mart sells anything just to turn a profit...? 'make/buy/sell' is the least of what's happening.

I'm guessing that outside of pedaling sticky Polaroids of your sister back in high school, you've never actually been in business, right? :)

It's replaceability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17841884)

Walmart has stores and stock, and to replace those stores and stock would cost tens of billions of $$.

In the example, Samsung makes the monitors and Dell resells them. Since Dell's advantage is selling direct through a website, something that's easily replaceable, over time competitors simply copy Dells direct sales technique and Dell is easily replaced, because it doesn't actually make the monitors it only sells them.

Speaking as someone who imports a product and sells it on the net, I'm acutely aware how delicate the value of my websites name and reputation is. Dell have no solid advantage, there are many competitors that can buy in the same volume and achieve the same discounts as Dell, and many many competitors that can mimic the direct to customer sales channel of Dell. The software too, they're beholden to Microsoft for. So they have little advantage that can't be copied easily.

Re:Quid Pro Quo? (3, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843120)

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

Re:Quid Pro Quo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17843490)

Those companies Dell is supposedly butchering are not going anywhere because foreign governments are subsidizing those companies. Do you actually think Samsung got to where it is today through "free" business tactics?

Re:Quid Pro Quo? (1, Interesting)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840762)

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 platform running INSIDE Windows Vista? You never know.

I'd say, Jobs is pretty consistent with what he said in all cases.

Re:Quid Pro Quo? (1)

eshefer (12336) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840830)

> 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..

Re:Quid Pro Quo? (1)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842392)

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 (4, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840552)

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.

Theme song? (1)

asjk (569258) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841282)

The Michael is the Dell,

The Michael is the Dell,

Hi-ho, the derry-o,

The Michael is the Dell.

Named after a computer? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17840580)

Is he named after a computer? No... But who IS Dell? From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

Michael William Dell (born February 23, 1965 in Houston, Texas) is the founder of Dell, Inc.

Dell is the son of an orthodontist and grew up in a well-to-do Jewish family. He went to Herod Elementary. He had his first encounter with a computer at the age of 15 when he broke down a brand new Apple II computer and rebuilt it, just to see if he could. Dell attended Memorial High School in Houston, Texas, where he did not excel scholastically. Reportedly his government teacher, who is no longer there, commented to him that he "would probably never go anywhere in life," and upon her release in the summer of 2002 the entire school was outfitted with new Dells.[citation needed]

After graduating high school, he attended the University of Texas at Austin intending to become a physician. While at the university, he started a computer company called PC's Limited in his room in Dobie Center.[1]

The company became successful enough that, with the help of an additional loan from his grandparents, Dell dropped out of college at the age of 19 to run to Dell Computer Corporation. Over time, and despite a number of setbacks (including laptops that caught on fire in 1993, temporarily losing the consumer market to Gateway in the mid 1990s, and others), Dell survived to become the most profitable PC manufacturer in the world, with sales of US$49 billion and profits of US$3 billion in 2004. As Dell expanded its product line to more than computers, shareholders voted to rename the corporation Dell, Inc. in 2003. On March 4, 2004, he stepped down as CEO of Dell but stayed as chairman of the board, while Kevin Rollins, then president and COO, became president and CEO.

Accolades for Dell include: "Entrepreneur of the Year" from Inc. magazine; "Man of the Year" from PC Magazine; "Top CEO in American Business" from Worth Magazine; "CEO of the Year" from Financial World and Industry Week magazines.

well (4, Funny)

CalSolt (999365) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840584)

It worked for Apple, didn't it...?

Here's some suggestions for Mike (5, Funny)

Centurix (249778) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840596)

dPod
dPhone
dBook

etc...

Re:Here's some suggestions for Mike (5, Funny)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840638)

dLusions - of granDell

Re:Here's some suggestions for Mike (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841928)

How delliteful!

DUDE!!! (1)

acedotcom (998378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840618)

Dude, you are still getting a crappy computer.

Improve Customer Support (5, Insightful)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840622)

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?

 

Re:Improve Customer Support (4, Interesting)

Speed Pour (1051122) | more than 7 years ago | (#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...

Re:Improve Customer Support (1)

atamido (1020905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842906)

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.

Yeah, I think this about says it all:

During Rollins' tenure, Dell was battered by a recall of 4.1 million potentially flammable notebook batteries made by Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE - news). and by disappointing earnings.

How exactly does anyone plan for that? The entire industry had to recall Sony batteries, not something that anyone could have predicted. And it should be noted that Dell was about the first to announce a recall on the same explosive batteries that everyone was using. There was a reason Kevin Rollins was picked to lead Dell, he is an excellent business man. If he has a shortcoming, it's that he has ethics too.

Still, I'm with you on the customer service thing. One of the reasons everyone used to buy Dells is that their computers were rated at least "Good" and their customer service was the best in the industry. Now if you've got anything other than a large corporate account you're going to be talking to someone in India that you can't understand, and that has no idea what's going on. "Why do you want me to hook this monitor to another computer if it has lines on it when it's not hooked to any computer?"

Re:Improve Customer Support (4, Informative)

ulysees (15761) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 ???

Re:Improve Customer Support (1)

Dark_MadMax666 (907288) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840964)

No. I had positive experience with dell tech support most of the time for "gold" accounts (servers/storage). I also think their website is the best for buying stuff.

I actually think the worst part is dell sales team ,half of them had southern accents, and most of them were absolutely brain dead and useless. So bad that I switched to buying server stuff from hp .

  Their hardware is also not very good (I had more failures with dells than with comparable HP) . But tech support was excellent ,I only called tech support for fairly complex and difficult issues - and to my surprise they were very competent.

Re:Improve Customer Support (1)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841498)

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. Replaced that, still broken. Then its memory, they replace that, still broken, further parts replace include hard drive, processor fans and processor (in that order). Still not working. I even give all the stop codes to help them and they ignore what I have given them and just replace the same parts again.

Three months of this when I ring up for the final time I am told "Reformat the machine". I gave up and threatened legal action. The response was I got a brand new machine at that point. Thing is they are supposed to swap the machine, instead they just give me a new machine and I'm left with a broken one taking up space. I have to go through all this song and dance again now for them to take back the broken machine.

If their technical support was any halfway good the issue would of been resolved a lot sooner and worked out cheaper for Dell.

Re:Improve Customer Support (1)

Falladir (1026636) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842564)

Why are you whining about their not taking the broken machine? Save the case for the next time you build your own, and chuck the rest in the dumpster at the next construction site you see. Save whatever else you want, too.

Re:Improve Customer Support (1)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843136)

Well the main reason is that the setup was a Swap. Which means they take the broken machine. If I keep the machine in anyway then they can effectively charge me for the new machine.

Re:Improve Customer Support (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842772)

Having worked there in the past, I've seen issues like yours. The problem with any call center job is that we're not physically there to fix the machine, and of course there are tremendous variances in technical proficiency between agents. Sometimes you get a great tech who can pull divine answers out of thin air, like me :) sometimes you get a lousy tech who will talk your ear off for 2 hours over a blown power supply.

The one thing that frustrated me the most at Dell, and I'm sure it's the same everywhere else, is that the on-site technicians are utterly useless, partly because they are subcontractors. Dell pays them some godly sum of cash, and they go and fuck things up even worse. They don't care, because they get paid more money to go back and fix it again. They are not qualified to troubleshoot, they're just certified screwdriver operators... which is pretty sad considering that most Dells require no tools to swap everything but the motherboard itself. They drop in the new part, maybe power it on to see if anything changed, and then run off. How hard would it be for a qualified tech to take 2 minutes to study the problem, worst case they could call Dell and have a tech-to-tech discussion instead of having the customer jump through more hoops. Now granted I never heard of the cases where everything goes smoothly, but many times the tech would show up late, or make an ass of himself (and the company), hell one time I heard of a tech showing up drunk and verbally abusing the customer. I can't know for sure, I wasn't there, but they're such idiots that I wouldn't put it past them.

I really wish Dell's next-day service meant "next-day FIXED service", meaning that if and when they send a tech on-site, the guy doesn't leave until the machine is back up and running. The way they have it right now, they bring a part, swap it, and if it didn't fix, they have to call back in to tech support and get another part for the next day. Why don't they just show up with a complete change of parts... if they find out the power supply took out the board, they just go back to the car and pull out a board!

There are loony cases where there is no obviously fix for the problem... You might swap every single piece of hardware, one by one, then reimage the OS, and the problem will persist. I've had it happen to me in person back when I was running my own repair shop, I call it "the voltage virus". Imagine a bug that infects anything that touches the motherboard, and the only way to purge it is to get a whole new machine and toss the old one in the garbage. I've only seen it happen with Intel machines so far. I remember a particularly nasty case where I had gotten so frustrated, I just took apart the whole system and tested each part individually in test rigs. By the end of the day, I had fried 4 test rigs and just gave the customer a new system.

The price war is over. You can't make money selling cheap computers on a large scale, because you can't cheat the way the small guys do. So very many computer stores these days pull scams to make a profit, whether it's tax evasion, bankruptcy hopping or moving in the middle of the night. The term "cutthroat" would be an understatement. I didn't bother to play that game, for various reasons. People paid a premium at my store, but they were getting top-quality systems and my peerless level of service. To give you an example, take the typical $299 budget PC of a few years past, which was an AMD Sempron, all-in-one board, 256mb ram and 40gb hard drive. That same spec machine cost an extra 30% from my store, but it came with an Antec power supply, Asus board and a real ATI graphics card. It may have had the same Mhz, ram and disk space on paper, but somehow it ran faster and smoother than the other guy's. Far more importantly, it never crashed, and very rarely did a power supply go poof. Not everyone is willing to pay for it, a lot of chumps just want the cheapest hackjob that can burn DVDs.. those idiots can go to Wal-Mart, I don't want their business. Indeed, I was catering to a niche market of discerning computer users. Apple does the same. Maybe Dell should do it too. Market share don't mean squat if you're losing money.

Re:Improve Customer Support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17841550)

I find Dell customer service to be pretty good. Dell Financial Services is another story. I order and get my hardware fine. I can get parts under warrantly replaced no questions asked but Dell Financials Services screws at least 1 thing up per purchase. It is my own fault. I keep using the 60 day same as cash payment option. As a small business owners it is hard to not use.

Re:Improve Customer Support (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843526)

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 systems are, although not a joy to work on, at least quite logical. You still have to take them halfway apart to swap an optical drive, but it's not a huge PITA to do so.

Re:Improve Customer Support (2, Informative)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841440)

> 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 skills require reading check boxes off a screen.

Technical support on the other hand is different. You are dealing with a person who understands the issue you are explaining. They know to cut through the check boxes and work on the core area.

> Corporates love Dell because of its uniform ugly black boxen.

You haven't bought a dell in a while have you. :)

Re:Improve Customer Support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17841918)

I couldn't agree more about being turned off by overseas support. I have decided not to buy another HP again because of their horrible support. I spent 5 extra minutes on the phone last week just trying to get the person in India to understand my problem. She continually called me by the wrong name, ignored what I said about the problem, ignored the solutions I had already implemented, and never put in the RMA that she promised.

If I were a computer customer I wouldn't purchase from Dell or HP because of their horrid technical support. I know I won't be.

Re:Improve Customer Support (1)

MojoStan (776183) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842042)

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 knowing who provides North American-based support. Some other PC makers that have North American-based support: Gateway, Lenovo, MPC (formerly Micron PC), Velocity Micro, Falcon Northwest.

Re:Improve Customer Support (1)

meinders (744301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842542)

Even a premium corporate customer care at Dell su8ks big time.
I don't get it. I manage a small company's IT budget, ( 50 workstations, 12 servers ) and I NEVER have problems with Dell. I have an assigned account rep, and probably have never waited on hold for an RMA on warranty parts longer than 5 or 10 minutes! And this is all with only drawing the attention of a $30,000/year account. I guess I just can't understand what problems some people go though with Dell.

Re:Improve Customer Support (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842644)

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).

Re:Improve Customer Support (1)

ehiris (214677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843076)

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 year warranty for (everyone I know who has a laptop like mine had a hard drive failure within 2 years), and installing poorly tested batteries that blow up.

The main reason though is that they effectively killed their cool image by doing very grown up (uncool) things which just pushed away their main customers. For example firing their spokesperson because he got caught with a small amount of pot, which is not even a criminal offense in most evolved places was an absolutely stupid decision.

It used to be "Dude, you're getting a Dell" and now it is "Sir, you should get a Dell because you could save money, blah blah blah"

less proprietization, please... (3, Insightful)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:less proprietization, please... (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840654)

it is the solereason I steer clear of dell hardware if I can help it.

Re:less proprietization, please... (1)

islanduniverse (925110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840676)

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.

Re:less proprietization, please... (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842322)

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.

Re:less proprietization, please... (1)

nevesis (970522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841238)

Dell does use proprietary parts more so than the other OEMs -- the cooling system particularly bothers me. (proprietary fan and a duct over the heatsink). Also, some models won't accept a PSU unless the power cable connector is in the same spot, or you dremel the case. Finally, the case connectors for the power button and LEDs match the boards -- so you can't swap in a new board.

On the other hand, Dell uses Intel brand boards in their machines, which are generally considered the most reliable boards. With a HP or Compaq or Sony -- you have no idea what you'll get.. it might be Intel or ASUS or MSI or some Canadian company you've never heard of (I forget their name).

Another plus is that all Dell machines have a built in diagnostic tool which can be accessed at boot, making it considerably easier for you to direct John Doe into memtesting over the phone.

After weighing the advantages and disadvantages, I suggest Dell over the other big OEMs, but never before a trusted local shop.

That's how Dell lost me (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842378)

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 controller into it was a lost battle. Dell and others on the support list suggested buying a new Dell with the "well, they don't suck anymore" logic.

I got a machine from ServersDirect with an Intel server mobo, a 3Ware SATA II NCQ controller, and just regular standard wires and connectors connecting everything with a 3-year onsite warranty for less than the Dell. It rocks.

Re:less proprietization, please... (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842854)

Having worked there, I really don't see what you're talking about. Most Dell parts are perfectly normal, a lot of the custom stuff involves mounting brackets for screwless access. The one thing I agree is a pain, is their power supplies. Any tech knows they're the part that most often dies on any PC, so it's a drag that Dell PSUs are usually non-standard. For anything else though, CPU, hard drive, ram.. you can use 3rd party replacements just fine.

Worst case, if the machine's out of warranty, you can rip out the guts and put them in a new ATX chassis, they will fit just fine. Hell I've got an old Precision workstation here, I plopped its naughty bits into an Antec chassis and the 7 year old clunker is happy as a clam, not to mention whisper-quiet :)

Reboot ? (5, Funny)

Rastignac (1014569) | more than 7 years ago | (#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. ;)

Im making a company called BACK SPACE (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840994)

It will be worth billions.

If it fails Ill make one called ESC - the cool gaming center

and then F10 - the place for strippers

and then SPACE BAR - the place to get drunk at

and then ALT KEY - the gay night club

Dell's problem (2, Interesting)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840724)

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.

Re:Dell's problem (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841212)

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.

Re:Dell's problem (1)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842622)

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 that is Vista will boost Dell's sales considerably. Lots of people simply buy a new PC instead of upgrading their old one, as much as I find that a waste of cash and a perfectly good PC.

One change in direction that wouldn't go amiss (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:One change in direction that wouldn't go amiss (4, Informative)

the_womble (580291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17840920)

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.

Re:One change in direction that wouldn't go amiss (1)

SirMeliot (864836) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842094)

I therefore backup the drivers folder, format the hard disk and reinstall XP

I wish I had your foresight. On the last Dell I had I just ran the thing to make a recovery CD, wiped the disk and reinstalled. Only to discover the recovery CD didn't have drivers for anything. Not even the network card worked. That made downloading new drivers fun.

Thanks Dell.

On the flip side apart from the MS Office trial, the iMac I have now came loaded with actual useful stuff. Why can't Dell do that?

Re:One change in direction that wouldn't go amiss (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842192)

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 the flak for the system slowdowns and whatever else the pre-installed crap causes. Maybe the OEM's might need to charge more for the PCs since they aren't "subsidized" by the crapware anymore but everyone will be forced to do it so it wont matter.

Re:One change in direction that wouldn't go amiss (1)

benzapp (464105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842308)

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.

Too cheap (1)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841020)

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 blue LEDs in everything, they are tacky and annoying (looking at the horrid XPS 17" laptop on another table that is just a horrible fright).

Re:Too cheap (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17841488)

Completely wrong. Dell's largest customer base is enterprises and government. The consumer buying is a much smaller percentage of all Dell's sales.

Re:Too cheap (1)

PinkPanther (42194) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842774)

he problem with Dell is that they have a reputation for the cheapest machines around [...] Most of their traffic is in the cheap end of the scale ... I disagree that the above is their problem. The vast majority of their profit comes from corporate sales:
most business machines do not need a hell of a lot of horse-power just to run MS-Outlook, IE and MS-Word
the business machines that do need power sell for a heftier price (look at Dell server lines)

They need to up the price on their lowest cost systems and improve the quality as well as reduce the number of options.
Actually, it is precisely the options that increase their profitability. They rope you into a system with a sweet price, then you decide you need an extra Gig of RAM, a bigger drive, hey for only $50 I get a faster CPU, and while I'm at it I'll pick up a USB memory stick. Oh, and look, I can get three years support for only $100 more.

Oh, and stop putting stupid blue LEDs in everything,
This is likely their biggest problem. Blue is sooooo 2003. Yep, the company is going down the drain...too bad they don't have enough resources to overcome the downturn in their revenue stream to overcome this horrendous technical glitch across their entire product line...

:-)

The register analysis (4, Interesting)

SnowWolf2003 (692561) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:The register analysis (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842438)

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 computer, and Dell's been selling to the low end at about the same price for a few years. The business model has always been ever-cheaper computers, so when that stops there's a problem.

will this prompt a swing away from linux? (1)

mokeyboy (585139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841194)

There seem to be a lot of comments against Dell. I contrast this with my experience buying from them. They aim to serve/please and you know the products will "just work" with Linux distros. I compare this with other shops like ASUS which are completely Microsoft dominated (server/laptop/desktop). Will Dell retreat from its so far accepting stance towards Linux in favor of the market dominant OS? I hope not but history might suggest a "sounder" business position.

I doubt it. (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842398)

If anything, I think this might be a good thing for Linux on Dell computers. Michael Dell has previously gone on record [desktoplinux.com] as saying:
"We love Linux, and we're doing our best to support the Linux community. We see lots of opportunity there. If the Linux desktops could converge at their cores, such a common platform would make it easier to support. Or, if there was a leading or highly preferred version that a majority of users would want, we'd preload it."

Dell's key to success (1, Redundant)

fang2415 (987165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841260)

Michael Dell is jumping back into the big chair at Dell

Well, Michael's key to success is going to be be to distance himself from Microsoft as much as possible. You know how Ballmer is with chairs.

Wish Dell or someone would go where HP used to be (5, Insightful)

kcbrown (7426) | more than 7 years ago | (#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...

Re:Wish Dell or someone would go where HP used to (2, Interesting)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841518)

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 course have different needs. There are things that I miss on the cheaper units (built in keyboard light, touchpad and button mouse, decent speakers) but if the unit is $500 I'll live without.

Re:Wish Dell or someone would go where HP used to (1)

kcbrown (7426) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841914)

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 course have different needs. There are things that I miss on the cheaper units (built in keyboard light, touchpad and button mouse, decent speakers) but if the unit is $500 I'll live without.

But do you turn over laptops every 18-24 months because they don't last much longer than that, or for some other reason?

Suppose your laptop were built like and tank (but didn't weigh as much as a tank, of course) and upgradeable so that you could keep up with technology, and each upgrade cost you about $400 (on average), but the initial expense was $2000 instead of $500, with all of that extra money going into the build quality. Would you go for that?

Think hard about that. The extra expense would get you a unit with a really solid keyboard (not the crap keyboards they have today), a rugged chassis, and a touchpad/stick that would never fail. It would also allow you to keep using your software without requiring a reinstall every 12-18 months. You'd be able to upgrade the OS on your schedule. That might be every 12-18 months, but it wouldn't have to be. It'd take you 20 years to break even financially, but during that entire period of time you'd have a machine that was much better built than the one you're using now.

Would that be worth it? In my opinion, it would be, in the long run. But that's how I tend to think about things: long term.

That said, laptops are probably the hardest computing devices to use this strategy on, because of the extra requirements of portability and miniaturization.

Re:Wish Dell or someone would go where HP used to (1)

sholden (12227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842446)

Except of course technology changes too fast. Do you really want to to be using a 1987 form factor laptop (with 2007 components) now? Something like: the Spark near the bottom of: http://www.cgu.edu/pages/2608.asp [cgu.edu]

My laptop upgrades tend to get smaller and smaller, it'd be hard to swap out components and end up with something physically smaller without completely replacing the machine anyway.

Re:Wish Dell or someone would go where HP used to (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842652)

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 commodity market you'll find that Apple gets away with charging more for their goods, and their quality is somewhat better (but not like it used to be). But people are looking for my second head when I suggest they drop $2400 on a 24" iMac with a good warranty - they say, "nawww, I'll go buy the Dell for $350". And then they throw it out after a couple frustrating years... and buy another!

In the PC space, I think what you're looking for is a local whitebox vendor who buys his own parts. Expect him to charge twice as much as Dell's blue-plate special for a desktop machine. In the server space, whitebox vendors like ServersDirect have been doing well for me - Intel Server mobo, 3Ware controllers, onsite warranties, etc. So far I've never needed to try their warranty - it's contracted out like all the others'.

You can also raid NewEgg for parts if your need are occasional. Also, consider throwing in the towel and planning on redundant architectures - that has its advantages too.

Distorted Visions (4, Interesting)

Jekler (626699) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Just Reformat the C: Drive (2, Funny)

aquatone282 (905179) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841622)

. . . and reinstall Windows.

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

ITs not their pcs its their support (1)

majortom1981 (949402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17841688)

ITs not dells hardware and pcs that is the problem. Dells problem is their support and customer service. No offence to people from india. But dells support in india stinks.

Also dell screwed up their sales department for businesses and government. It took a month to get a uqote for one pc.

Dell needs to work on their customer support and sales. Thats what is costing them sales.

Dell Hell (2, Interesting)

chromozone (847904) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842066)

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 began to hide the panel info and told people complaining in its forums that as far as Dell was concerned "a 2007WFP was a 2007WFP".

I finally sent my monitor back to Dell but arranging that return was nightmare. From one service rep to another they lose track of issues. Mailing labels to be sent never were; emails they were to send me were never sent; credits due were never sent. I have 2 notebook pages of case numbers just for a monitor purchase and return. It's been six weeks and still I have not been sent a credit even though reps I call say it has. I can't get anyone to follow through on the simplest task.

I don't think Dell is a bad company but its obvioulsy a real mess over there.

Things DELL should change (4, Insightful)

jonwil (467024) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

bloated crap...is there anyway..... (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842660)

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?

Where can Michael Dell expand to? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842688)

In Capitalist West Michael Dell promises you get profits.
In Soviet Russia kgb getting a Dell for you!

You get what you pay for (not what you expect) (1)

stibrian (848620) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842930)

You truly get what you pay for. During college I worked on PCs to make some extra $ - hated working on Dells or Gateways... rather annoying boxen. Into corporate america I go, and I get what I considered a small fortune allocated to buy myself a development laptop. Anything I wanted, as long as it was a Dell :) This was just shy of 3 years ago. I bought a smashing d800 - carried it all over the world, in a backpack, throwning it into and out of the car 5 days a week. The video card smoked on it at 2 yrs - had a tech at my desk at the office 36 hours later putting a new one in. Nearing the end of warranty, I called support. Again, you get what you pay for, and what had been purchased was the 3 year gold warranty with full accidental damage coverage. After I went through the littany of things that were worn out (not broken, just USED) with the tech on the phone (I was on hold for 30 seconds - the Gold queues are short), he said it was cheaper for Dell to just replace the machine. How nice - a new d820 was shipped a few days later that is faster/bigger in all respects to the previous machine. Fully covered under warranty. How much was this warranty? $300. I recently bought another Dell - M90 - top of the line mobile workstation, with the warranty that I had on the previous machine. You can't get close to it's specs from any manufacture out there without giving them $2k more than I paid - and the machine is fabulous - with no pre-loaded crapware - they don't do so much of that on an engineering machine. Long story short - you get what you pay for. Pay $300 for a machine you get a $300 machine. get the cheapest/standard warranty you get 2 hour hold times - what do you expect? As a previous poster mentioned, I don't have the time to build a machine, and build your own laptop is hard... for the money I have a great machine and a stellar warranty that I've seen in action. I used to hate Dell - now not so much :)

This is hopefully good news.... (1)

lokispundit (975030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843198)

Dell has really gone down the drain over the past couple of years. As as corporate customer I've had to deal with just in the last 6 months
  • 20+ Faulty motherboards, all needing replacement.
  • 2 more faulty motherboards, in BRAND NEW computers out of the box
  • 2 bad DIMMs in a brand new laptop

Customer service has been terrible, its seems everytime I put in a trouble ticket it get routed to wrong support area. Example: I put in a service call about 2 bad DIMMs; I was then given an email about how to troubleshoot my hard drive problem. I had to call them up and explain the whole thing over again to them in order to get a dispatch for the memory.

Then there is the bloatware! It's not quite as bad on the corporate desktops, but the Inspirons I ordered were just loaded with trial versions of AOL and Symantec, and god only knows what else. It must have taken 5 minutes to actually boot up to windows.

That's just unacceptable, you pay good money and in many cases to much money for a computer it shouldn't be crippled when you get it.

Let's hope that Dell goes back to the basics, and hopefully finds some redemption.

As long as their employees hate working there... (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843480)

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

What a liar (1)

_iris (92554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843642)

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.

Give Options other than VISTA (1)

IceDiver (321368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843878)

I checked out the Dell Web Site yesterday.

No OS options other than VISTA were available. I did a site search for "Linux" and got a bunch of Linux compatible peripherals, but no systems.

If they want to keep their customers happy, they should at LEAST give customers the option to buy WinXP until VISTA SP1 comes out.

Personally, I refuse to buy VISTA or a VISTA-encumbered machine until the DRM crap is removed, either by MS or by a third party. Even then, I'll probably switch to Linux. It's MY computer, not Microsoft's, and NOT Hollywood's.
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