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Michael Dell buys back PC company he founded in $24.8bn deal (theguardian.com)
204 points by cake on Sept 12, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 118 comments

Companies that are publicly traded are under constant pressure to increase profit. DELL becoming a privately held company allows them to relieve some of that pressure, especially with Michael Dell being a large shareholder.

The PC market is shrinking as individuals and enterprises alike are relegating more and more tasks to smartphones and tablets. The useful life of a desktop/notebook also continues to be lengthened. DELL will continue to sell computers and make profit, but unless they change their focus significantly, they won't be a company that the stock market would love.

I think they made the right decision. if they turn around and become the next Apple or Lenovo, they could always go public again.

Yea, Dell had to rely on Intel's payments not to use AMD processors to meet EPS expectations: http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2010/2010-131.htm

- It's ok if a "horse carriage" manufacturer goes private after cars became commonplace

- But Ford doesn't need to go private because Toyota came along

The last time I checked (2 minutes a go; I like to be sure), Ford wasn't doing so well. In recent years, they’ve had to sell a lot of their brands and all of their components factories. They're in debt and are selling half as many vehicles as they were a decade a go.

Going private wouldn't be a bad idea. Even better would be to sell the company to its employees. That has worked very well for similar companies.

That's completely incorrect. Ford is in fact doing extraordinarily well.

1) Ford's stock is at the second highest general level it has ever been at during its publicly traded history (matched by the 2011 peak, and surpassed by the dotcom bubble days). Consistent with the QE bull market, but a good thing non-the-less.

2) As a business their financials and profit level is very healthy. They not only did not take a government bailout, but they're making a lot of money.

3) In 2003 Ford sold 6.7m vehicles. In 2012 they sold 5.7m vehicles. In 2003, Ford had net earnings of $495m (in 2002 they had a net loss of $980m). In 2012 they earned $5.66 billion. They've produced over $22b in operating income the last three years. This during a span of time in which US auto sales has been a disaster volume wise.

4) Their 2003 auto sales were $134b. Their 2012 auto sales were $126b. They trimmed off bad business segments, and boosted profitability by a factor of 11 = a very healthy, if mature business.

5) Their stockholder equity in 2003 was $12.5b, it's now $19.1b and heading north rapidly. They hold $36.6b in short term cash & securities. They completely paid off the collateralized $23b loan taken out in 2006. Their pension system is in much better shape today than it was ten years ago. They hold a mere $13 billion in debt in the automotive division, the bulk of their balance sheet debt is financing credit for customers.

Their business is drastically better off today than a decade ago. It's spitting tons of cash, enabling the pay down of past mistakes. Soon they'll also have a fully funded pension system, freeing up even more cash. It's better to be profitable and have a sustainable business than to lose a lot of money selling more cars.

"Ford Motor Co (F.N) could be in a position that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago - with a fully funded U.S. pension fund."


2002 Total Vehicle sold - 6,973,000 [1]

- Ford/Lincoln/Mercury - 5,892,000

2002 Net loss $980M

Now it is only Ford and Lincoln brands

2012 Total Vehicle sold - 5,668,000 [2]

2012 Net Income $5,665M

Are you sure about your data?

[1] http://corporate.ford.com/doc/2002_full.pdf

[2] http://corporate.ford.com/doc/ar2012-2012%20Annual%20Report....

More like 10 years ago. Your information is about 6 years out of date. They sold or suspended money losing brands like Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo. They refinanced the company back in 2005 by selling their factories and renting it back from the new owners. Nothing changed, just the title on the deed, and they were hundreds millions of dollars richer. At the congressional autos bailout hearing they were there to to support GM and Chrysler in acquiring TARP loans. Because if either of those companies failed it would send a shockwave in the supply chain.

> Even better would be to sell the company to its employees. That has worked very well for similar companies.

American Airlines is employee owned and that has worked out smashingly, not!

$190B assets / 170k employees = $1.11mm/employee. I doubt the average line worker has that kind of money on hand.

> Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo

I'm not saying it is indicative of anything, but having been released from Ford those brands are now doing very very well.

All three are parts of big asian holdings now. So it hard to tell how good are they on their own.

- Volvo is losing money

- Jaguar lost 60% of unit sales in last 10 years.

- Land Rover actually improved, up 30%

Is Volvo? My wife has an XC90. She previously had an S40. I've had two C70's (both generations) and an S80.

So you might get the impression I generally like Volvo and would be happy to hear this. ;-) It was my impression they were on their way out of the US market though.

Well, at least of all the US automakers, they seem the best off. They forewent the government bailout, and in addition to their trucks which sell quite well domestically, they have quite popular models they sell in Europe.

Empowering your workers with a share of their productivity and a voice in the business that elevates them beyond a flesh body moving its limbs is a slippery slope in an age of attempted wage slavery on a global scale.


> slippery slope

...towards a better world.

Some of Dell's hardware seems to be getting better again. I just purchased the Dell XPS 12" and I'm mostly satisfied with the computer (although it's a bit expensive).

However, there are two things that still drive me crazy about Dell. The first one should be easy to fix which is that the website is absolutely awful. It's slow, many links 404 and overall just a very frustrating experience. It took me awhile to get my computer ordered because of how slow the site is and I almost gave up.

The other issue is the fact that I have to wait about 2 weeks for my computer to be built and shipped to me. Most of their computers they don't even allow many configurations so why can't they have pre-built machines ready to ship. The very day I ordered my Dell, I ordered a Macbook Air for my wife which shipped in 2 days.

Dell has been pretty consistent force on the server side, but I'd like to see them regain some strength in the consumer laptop market again.

There's a very good idea on Dell's website that I haven't seen on other laptop sites: All Dell laptops have a sticker with a "service tag" (a 6-character code that looks like, say, HYBVGX). You enter that code in the Dell website, specify the OS (say, Windows/XP), and you can download all the drivers specific to your laptop configuration.

The idea is wonderful. For Lenovo laptops, by contrast, you have to somehow know exactly what components are used in your laptop and then go hunt for those drivers. (And no, I don't want to use Lenovo's mysterious automatic update tools.)

I said that Dell's idea is wonderful, but the implementation is horrible unfortunately: you have to download the drivers one-by-one (unless you're willing to use their download manager), the order in which drivers are installed matters and Dell doesn't tell you the order, the documentation on what each driver does is very poor, they are inconsistently packaged (zip files, exe's, installers), and sometimes you get offered, say, 3 wifi drivers because apparently Dell doesn't know which wifi chipset was put into your configuration.

Like I said, the idea is great.

> All Dell laptops have a sticker with a "service tag"

That seems very old-fashioned to me. Why should I have to type in anything at all for the computer to know what its components are? Shouldn't it already know?

Apple’s Software Update/Mac App Store knows what computer I use. Even with the BTO Mac’s, the OS knows what components those computers have. The Mac App Store never presents me with software that's not suitable for my computer. I know x86 + Windows has way more possible configurations, but even there, it should be possible to create a report of all the components and send it to Windows Update (AFAIK, it already does that — why are you downloading drivers from DELL’s site?)

Sure, the computer knows the PCI-ID's of everything on the PCI-family of buses. Same for usb. But you presume that the person downloading the drivers is doing it from the same computer. If it needs a driver for its network interface, then that is going to be a problem.

> driver for its network interface

To me, that sounds like a Windows problem, not a DELL problem. No matter what components your computer consists of, a basic Windows install should have a suitable driver for your network card, at least to get online to get better and more up-to-date drivers. In my experience, it always does. Maybe I've just been lucky?

As for downloading drivers from a different computer, I think that's mostly done by IT departments to manage numerous computers. Of them, it can be expected they know what they’re doing, and making the process easier could obviate their job, so I suspect they like the way it is now.

Maybe I've just been lucky?

That about sums it up.

making the process easier could obviate their job, so I suspect they like the way it is now.



Wow what? You realize this mindset is extremely common, and that some people will in fact actively sabotage improvement efforts to keep their jobs, right?

To attribute that mindset to every IT department rather than some group of individuals is beyond cynical. Would you say the same thing about all developers? All engineers? A statement like that speaks volumes about the writer and nothing about the subject.

I suspect they like the way it is now.

Having worked in a large IT department I can assure you that anything that alleviates the drudgery of basic computer maintenance is very very welcome by everybody I've known who works there.

> No matter what components your computer consists of, a basic Windows install should have a suitable driver for your network card, at least to get online to get better and more up-to-date drivers.

Including drivers for cards that were created after Windows was released? Good luck with that!

> As for downloading drivers from a different computer, I think that's mostly done by IT departments to manage numerous computers.

Clearly you've never had to wipe/restore a family member's computer because of their crippling malware, er, porn, habit.

> Of them, it can be expected they know what they’re doing, and making the process easier could obviate their job, so I suspect they like the way it is now.

If a Windows Update-type solution could be funnelled through a locally controlled central server for large installs, then the IT department could approve each update, and the local machines would automatically pull them down.

I assume that something like this already exists (even if it's not tied into Windows Update specifically).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/System_Center_Configuration_Man... used by large IT departments to ship and deploy updates

Yes, it exists in many different incarnations--even more than one from Microsoft, and others from third parties.

WSUS is Windows Update for small/medium-sized MIS to run.

Perhaps the person is about to reinstall the OS on the Dell computer and hence wants to download all the drivers onto another disk...

This. The hours I've spent tracking down random network drivers for OEM PC's....

please don't ever design anything for people to use

you're breaking the 0.01% use case at the expense of the 99.99% use case. maybe the 99.999%

Online software update in general (not just Apple's, but anybody's) makes it difficult to create offline installers or make a standalone backup of everything you need.

Also, you might need a specific version of a driver, not the latest version. Online software update always get the latest.

(Not to get off topic, but creating a standalone install of Mac OS X Lion is real challenge. Installing it assumes that you'll always have a fast and reliable Internet connection.)

> Installing [OS X] assumes that you'll always have a fast and reliable Internet connection.

Oh, I know all about that, it can be quite an ordeal. Earlier this summer, I spent a month in rural France for a film shoot. A few days after I arrived, my MacBook Air started acting up, all apps would crash immediately after launch. Ran Apple Hardware Test: bad RAM. I called Apple, they wouldn't send someone out to fix it, I had to bring it to an Apple reseller for repair. Which I did, and it was fixed in three days. However, even in that larger city (Poitiers), their Internet connection was bad. They wouldn't install the OS for me because they knew their Internet connection was unreliable. Afterwards, I tried installing the OS via a WiFi network at a local bar, it took 4 hours and then it failed. I tried a different bar, same story. Eventually, I went to a cyber cafe in an even larger city, where it took 1,5 hours and went through.

OS X’s web downloader should allow for partial downloads, download suspension, and redownloading of specific corrupted blocks. It's great that you don't need a disk or USB drive to install OS X from scratch, but the process still needs work.

I don't understand. What does bad RAM have to do with re-installing OS X?

Also, even if the RAM somehow corrupted the OS, weren't you able to boot into the recovery partition? Or even install it on a USB drive beforehand? https://www.apple.com/osx/recovery/

I always format the internal disk when I send in a computer for hardware repairs. I don’t expect to get the same computer back and I don’t want my data to be out there.

It's worse in iOS. I remember hanging onto an old kindle app version for ages to keep the feature that allowed direct book purchases. The upgrade killed this when I accidentally hit upgrade all one day. The annoying notification did go away though.

Maybe on the off chance you need to download from another machine (no net connectivity, network drivers, clowns)?

Clowns are way scary, I grant you.

As for the Internet connection, I think that’s kind of expected of a computing device nowadays.

After having seen several of your comments: You assume a lot.

They also provide an option to automatically detect the service tag of your PC on the service page as well (with the installation of a plugin in IE).

What if, like, the battery's dead, man?

my usual process is to download a network driver from a network connected computer and then let windows update deal with the rest. its hard for the dell site to determine your hardware from another computer.

My Thinkpads all have an app that's readily available from their website that automatically updates all drivers and Lenovo apps. Not only that, but one updater works on all my different Thinkpads.

It's been this way for years.

I do a fresh install of each new laptop I get, and all I do is install the system updater, wait for it to d/l the files, wait through a few reboots, and done.

Bonus with Lenovo is it's pre-backdoored by the Chinese government, so you don't have to worry about NSA collecting your info passively :P http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/07/29/lenovo_accused_backd...

Dell also has a "scan my system" function too. But it's nice to be able to download the drivers you need on a different machine. One that has a working ethernet driver, for example.

You can do that on their web site. Just enter the bit on the bottom such as 7661-12G and it'll give you a list per os.

> For Lenovo laptops, by contrast, you have to somehow know exactly what components are used in your laptop and then go hunt for those drivers. (And no, I don't want to use Lenovo's mysterious automatic update tools.)

Biased IBM supporter here. All IBM/Lenovo Think systems have a MachineType-Model (eg: 2537-25A). It's written on the button of Thinkpads, or you can find it by:

Windows: GUI: msinfo32, CLI: systeminfo Linux: dmidecode -t 1

The only possible exception, I can think of, is if you order a custom configuration - then the model part will say 'CTO'.

Source: http://forums.lenovo.com/t5/T400-T500-and-newer-T-series/Pro...

For ThinkPads Lenovo has "Thinkvantage System Update", a program that you can download that allows you to automatically install all the drivers (& bloatware, if wanted) for your system.

Fujitsu has Fujitsu DeskUpdate that's similar.

They're pretty sweet, much better than downloading everything separately, but of course not as good as Linux with its package managers.

It's not just their laptops. It's all Dell computers. When I started working in IT as a college student they were 5 digits, but I think they're all 7 digits now. I believe the service tag also brings up warranty information and the specs of the machine as ordered if you are logged in as an account with permissions (i.e. the one that ordered it).

I haven't looked in a long time, but it used to be that if you knew the exact model number of a Lenovo laptop the website would show you just the drivers you needed. Not the nameplate model, the model number specific to the screen and components and so on.

There is an equivalent on the Lenovo laptops - my X1 is a "3443CTO". Same issue with the horrible downloader implementation though.

> [it] should be easy to fix [...] the website [It] is absolutely awful.

That’s a comment I did not expect on Hacker News. I think it’s safe to say that the majority of HN commenters have some experience with web site development.

To do an overhaul on a site like DELL’s is a major undertaking. I wouldn't characterize it as ‘easy’. If their corporate structure even allows rethinking their online strategy, it will take considerable effort to get the site on par with the likes of Apple and Microsoft. Those, IMO, are best in breed. And DELL is certainly not alone, HP’s site is just as nightmarish.

If they ever desire to improve their brand identity (and subsequently, their website), they would do well to look at how Microsoft did it. Microsoft hired Pentagram[1] to completely rethink their aging brand and went from there. DELL’s brand could use a similar treatment.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentagram_(design_studio)

I've been a developer and building websites for a long time. Yes, "easy" is probably overstating, but the parts that are problems I'd think could be corrected or fixed without a major undertaking. Fixing the broken links and finding a way to speed the pages up a bit should not require overhauling the entire site.

Dell, I would guess, does much of their business online so it would seem a no-brainer to make the online experience as good as possible. Broken links and consistent timeouts are inexcusable for a site like Dell.

> Broken links and consistent timeouts are inexcusable for a site like Dell.

Oh, I agree. But I doubt they’re doing it on purpose. I would also guess that they have a lot of talented, knowledgable web developers on staff. That's why I'm saying that the problems are probably not as easily solved as you may think. I don't know what their backend is, I don't know what kind of CMS they're using and how it ties into their ERP, CRM, etc.

The very day I ordered my Dell, I ordered a Macbook Air for my wife which shipped in 2 days.

The last time I ordered a customised Macbook, delivery took weeks (and was from China). This was some years ago though, so may no longer be accurate.

Seems the answer here would be for Dell to have 'off the shelf' laptops with standard configurations they can ship quickly. If they don't already, I'm kind of amazed.

I've had it take longer with Apple too but that's usually been on popular releases when they've gotten back-ordered. My wife's laptop was customized with 8gb of ram and 512gb ssd and its ship date was 1-2 days and it did ship 2 days later.

My main complaint was that after ordering a computer for 1800.00 it's very frustrating to be told that it will take 10-20 days just to "build" it, much less how long it will take to actually get to me.

Judging from your comment and GP’s, it’s obvious that DELL is giving women special treatment ;)

I’ve ordered numerous BTO Macs. Most took only a few days, a few took over a week. In the cases that it took over a week, it was always when the model was recently released.

MBA 'customisation' isn't really. It's just another one of the four variants (small/big memory/ssd) that they will have on the shelf. They'll just run through one shelf faster with the 'common' setup.

When I ordered my MBA last year it also shipped directly from China and took about 10-12 days.

For what it's worth Dell does sell several configurations of most models that ship immediately or next day. Personally, I prefer to build my own, but I help my clients choose Dell PCs from time to time and it's never been an issue getting them delivered within a week. If you look for "Smart Selection" or "Quick Ship" models, you'll find quite a lot.

Apple works the same way, in my experience. When I ordered my Air a couple years ago, I couldn't buy it in store because it was a configuration they didn't carry and it took several days after my online order before it even shipped from China.

Currently, Lenovo and Apple are the only two profitable consumer laptop manufacturers. It's pretty easy to see why; Apple is iterating and refining to the max with the new MacBooks, and Lenovo continues to push out innovative and seamlessly designed consumer products (much to the chagrin of ThinkPad traditionalists like me), like the new Yoga 2 Pro, ThinkPad Yoga, and Helix.

There's a reason customer satisfaction is high with these two brands. If Dell can bring his company back, 1997-Apple style, we might see a resurgence in its popularity (which peaked in the mid-2000s), giving us three major consumer notebook player.

This is a good time.

Just out of curiosity why didn't you give up and order elsewhere? There are countless sites to buy computers from, even dell computers like the one you eventually received.

You don't really have much of a choice, assuming you're a business. Dell, HP, maybe Lenovo.

Lenovo and HP's business websites were a disaster for the longest time, they basically forced you to go through a VAR, and Dell had such a huge price advantage that it didn't make sense to go with anyone else.

bigco websites are generally bad not due to technical incompetence, but because it is difficult to organize collaboration between hundreds of teams, each with their own incentives and requirements.

Agree on the Dell Website, it's atrocious. Trying to get prices on servers a couple of months ago was agonisingly slow. Somehow managed to crash my browser repeatedly too (we're stuck on IE7 at work).

For servers, you might as well just call a rep because the price they are going to give is going to be 20-40% below the price on Dell's website.

The bay trail tablet looks pretty nice so far as well.

I just got an XPS 13 with Ubuntu. It's not bad, and the biggest defect, the screen, is something it has in common with pretty much everything else out there. Major props to Dell for providing a good computer that ships with Linux.


I read your post. I totally agree with the squashed screens. It would be awesome to have a fancy flip / rotatable screen to allow for more vertical space.

Also, wtf is with the lack of pg up / pg dn ?! That's just weird.

I just spent 30 seconds trying to figure out what 'pg up' meant. Signs you read too much Hacker News:

- You read "pg up" as "Paul Graham up"

Don't you get those using Fn+Up/Down? At least my XPS15z has them there.

Yeah, but I use them often enough that that's a PITA.

Michael Dell once said that poorly performing Apple should return money to stock holders and shutdown.

What goes around..........

At least he puts his money where his mouth is.

Interesting. I had never heard this quote.


It was in 1997. Apple wasn't doing so well at the time.

"There is some concern that Apple will have a hard time recruiting a top-notch CEO because of Jobs's presence." reads quite ironically too given how things panned out.

I think that was sarcasm.

Well, now Mr. Dell is the stock holder.

… because he gave "the money back to the shareholders".

In the Enterprise space, there really isn't a solid competitor - HP and IBM equipment is, to be blunt, terrible: I had a 50% DOA rate on 20 HP servers I bought two years ago. In contrast, I've had zero on the $4M+ worth of Dell I've bought since then.

That said, it only applies to their servers - the disk arrays and networking equipment is all garbage. I hope this change won't result in making the one thing that works worse.

I think the decision between Dell/HP/Lenovo is all politics. Everywhere I've been except for my current position has been a Dell shop, mostly because of low pricing, fast service, reliable products, ease of ordering.

But the current place is all HP. They've been running on HP since the 80's, the core of the business still runs on an Itanium. I was literally laughed at for suggesting Dell servers or Lenovo laptops. The IT VP seems to think Dell is a joke and Lenovo is 'low quality, Chinese'.

The only advantage of going with HP in my mind, is the fact that there are two fortune 500 companies in town who run all HP. That results in them having techs in the area all the time and a decent inventory of warranty parts nearby.

It's kind of screwed up, but the #2 reliability hardware vendor I've found has been Supermicro (tied with Dell, depending on model). Supermicro is also super-cheap, and tends to make cool things like Intel developer machines.

I hate Dell desktops, although I do like their monitors. Dell desktops tend to over-optimize on power supplies and other components, such that you can never really upgrade them later.

Dell servers are shit. Currently trying to source a disk for a 3 year old poweredge which is stupid. Pay £700 for a Dell one or £122 fir a generic one but the array won't build with the generic one as the PERC doesn't like it (even though its the same model disk). Dell modify the firmware.

+1 for supermicro and they're fun to build as well as bomb proof

Except Supermicro's remote management stuff locks up and requires a unit reset to get going again. That's hosed us more than once (across different servers, different timeframes, different datacenters, different providers).

Dell's done some dumb stuff, and the newer gen models are a nightmare to figure out (limiting number of disks for no reason, requiring 2.5" on some models but not others). Plus they gouge you to get a functional KVM ($300+?) But they've been far more reliable than Supermicro, in my limited experience.

Are you running the newest firmware on the PERC? The firmware used to limit you to only Dell certified drives but they removed that after about a year, probably due to backlash. I know we told our rep we wouldn't buy the new cards until they got rid of that.

I really want to get into the open hardware from Facebook, etc. I'd love cost-efficient boxes with the right security features (ideally, a super-cheap HSM) built in, along with either no RAID but enough SATA (to do sw raid), or areca or 3ware chips built-in. Being able to get good 10GE or 4x bonded GE support would be a huge plus, too.

The newest supported on the machines (they are quite old). We tried another vendors disk in it and the array rebuild failed.

  > Intel developer machines
Would you care to elaborate / link? Google turns up nothing.


Several of their new technology server motherboards were actually OEMed by Supermicro -- stuff like the boards for testing TXT, etc. Intel is actually getting out of the motherboard industry entirely. I think Supermicro was mainly involved in the server boards, not their desktop boards -- bigger manufacturers usually used intel reference designs but still made their own board, so I think it was a low volume business.

I am really leery of buying anything from HP. The only laptop I've ever had to repair(that wasn't 't major), and it was the motherboard. I only had a few hours of use and the fan out max out. To be honest the laptop had quality components, but designed terribly. The heat sink was too far away for the nvida video chip. They wouldn't admit anything was wrong until lawyers got involved.

Please do NOT go under Dell.

Own a Dell Precision M4700 workstation (absolute beast of a laptop, i7 3840QM, 32GB RAM, 2X 256GB SSD), and 2 R610 1U rack servers in colo. I've been buying Dell servers since 2005, never a problem, completely satisfied.

Their high end consumer, and mid-to-high-range server gear is pure quality, at decent pricing to boot (if you can work a deal with sales rep., or find a decent unit on Dell Outlet that is).

Having worked in a place using only their top-line products (laptops,workstations and servers) since 2001, I can't stress how true this is. That stuff is pure quality. Quite a lot of the machines that were bought in 2001-2003 are still there, up and running (of course with second or third batch of new hard disks). Those that are not there anymore were abandoned because they became too slow for current standards, not because they broke. Which basically means we're not sure of the actual lifetime yet since there hasn't been any of the machines that just didn't work anymore.

Also extremely important: Dell obviously did quite some research in figuring out which components work together well. This translates in close to zero OS problems due to hardware goining nuts. In other words: no kernel panics, no blue screens. Some people hardly belive this, but the only time I saw blue screens/kernel panics in the past ten years was when doing stupid stuff myself, never because of the machine.

(note: I cannot compare to other brands here, maybe they are as good as well - I certainly hope so for their users)

I think this is terrific news. A publicly traded company has only one goal: increasing short term profit (max one year). Thus, no long term investment is possible any more.

Buying Dell back enables them to think long and hard about the future of computing--to invest into the future. This makes me very hopeful that my next computer will be a Dell: A well-designed machine that was not just a marketing-driven reaction to what the others were doing, but a result of thorough engineering and thoughtful design.

That is not true, and HN continually rehashes this argument. There is no law or standard that a public corporation must maximize short-term shareholder profit.

There certainly is no law, and I'm not sure what you mean by standard. But if you work at any number of such corporations you will notice there certainly is a robust trend.

Amazon's one goal is to increase short term profit?

Amazon is the exception. Bezos is very smart in training investors to look at the value of their investment in other ways and that company profitability is NOT one of them.

In the majority of corporations the pressure is immense to be profitable, stay profitable and increase profitability. Very few CEOs/BODs have the backbone to resist that.

Do you have any evidence to support this claim? Why does Microsoft Research exist? Why is Google sending balloons over New Zealand? Why does Costco pay their employees above minimum wage?

I feel like Dell had a great idea with the developer Linux laptop http://www.dell.com/learn/us/en/555/campaigns/xps-linux-lapt.... Having a mainstream PC linux alternative to Mac is likely good for the market. My thought was that the privatization move was part of a plan to offer more products like this and less of Windows, but the MS investment to support them makes that argument less viable http://www.electronista.com/articles/13/02/05/michael.dell.r....

I thought Dell had become big in the late 90's by mastering the supply chain and cutting costs in manufacturing. When everyone else did that too, they seemed to have lost their competitive advantage. Maybe Michael Dell has a plan for them in this "post pc" world. I don't have faith that they will, but I could be wrong.

I believe Dell's suppliers also used the demonstrated advantages of Dell's logistics to enter the market as competitors.

Also in the pre-2000s run up, Dell's pricing was premium, and with those margins Dell provided better than average in-house, state-side customer support, most (all?) of which was eventually dismantled as PC prices dropped.

Maybe when they aren't public, Dell will be able to invest heavily in R&D & customer support without worrying about earnings per share for the next quarter.

Funny story about Michael Dell - He was a system builder, and my dad owned a computer store that sold supplies to builders. So, Michael Dell came in, he was just about 18 years old or something, just a kid. My dad taught him how to build a computer, and Dell, he wanted to build his own power supplies. My dad told him he was crazy, especially since power supplies are so cheap, they come with the cases you bought anyway. Years later, I tried to convince my dad that mail order was the way to go, but he grumbled about having to refund people for a full 30 days after sale and how it would ruin his cashflow. That business finally went under. Then he started again, and in 1999 I show him that he could sell 2x the amount of computers if he sold on the internet. Again, same grumbling about cash flows. That business went under. Now look at Dell.

Carl Icahn must be a very upset activist investor now. I wish Michael Dell can improve Dell's figures - I think they do make very solid hardware but their profit margin in the consumer space are just too thin.

They either need to push more on the services front or become the Apple for Windows powered systems, where they could sell stylish and great products at a premium.

I do wonder what would happen if "profit margin fixing" was legal.

I wonder why similar posts sticks or not. Is it theguardian.com domain/time? I am really interested in this news.

My past submissions:

- https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6376364

- https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6373609

It's almost always time. There are peak times when lots of people use HN and upvote- if you submit outside of those times your link is likely to decay quickly.

(That said, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a negative factor associated for forbes.com. They've basically sold out their brand to clickbait nonsense)

Looks to me that they just weren't attention grabbing headlines. There wasn't any indication in the first one that it was a Michael Dell quote, and the second one just sounds like a random analyst offering an opinion on what Dell should do (which is not very interesting).

Dell has the brand power that they're not totally sunk. Honestly, I'm not happy with my Dell hardware - I have a Dell laptop with a garbage speaker that can no longer charge the battery, and it only lasted just over two years (testing replacement power-supplies and batteries proved it was the port itself that was fried). It looked nice, it was fun to use, but it wasn't built to last.

This wouldn't be such a problem if Dell didn't go out of their way to use proprietary hacks on their hardware.

But there are other industries where this is totally okay. Gaming. Set-top boxes. Stuff like that. People expect those devices to be highly proprietary and not serviceable.

Dell's Ophelia project could be a good move for them - use their brand-name to sell Android-based TV boxes. That's a place where people still do the yearly upgrade treadmill.

What model laptop? I am still using my Studio 17 laptop from January 2009 and other than the hinge getting loose every few months (which means I need to pop the plastic off around the screen and tighten again with a standard phillips screwdriver) it has been the best laptop I have owned. It has outlasted my ThinkPad's which is the biggest shock to me. Maybe I just got lucky but I couldn't be happier with this machine. It has lasted way longer than I expected it too considering it is a consumer laptop and not a business line such as the Latitude. When I have to replace it I am not too sure what I will do as now I expect my laptop to last me at least 5 years :-/

I forget the model name - something in the Inspiron line. I have a Vostro desktop and I'm happy with it (even managed to drop in a low-power GeForce video card without overloading the PSU), but the lappy has been a disappointment. Although I've a family with small children, so I guess we're hard on laptops (I've still got to swap out the keyboard on my wife's HP after my daughter pried half of them off and broke the little plasticky bits needed to re-attach them).

For some reason the phrase comes to mind "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out".

From what I’ve read about Michael Dell over the years, I’d say he’s doing a great job at that (taking the company out.)

This is the company that came up with built-to-order from their online shop, fast deliveries while maintaining small inventory, and selling most computers directly. Their computers weren't innovative per se, but their business processes were. What have they done for us lately?

Ask an IT guy. The internals on the 990 desktop series >>> the 960 series >>> the whatever... 600-somethings, etc. Continual improvement, model after model. When you're dealing with thousands of employees, ease of interchangeable internals is a godsend. What have they done lately? Kicked ass.

I was referring to: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WhatHaveYouDoneFo...

Anyways, you speak truth. Microsoft and DELL are set up for enterprise. IT departments love them and are right to do so.

However, the market is changing. Already, there are more smartphones than traditional computers. Tablets are outselling traditional computers. Many of those devices will need to connect to corporate networks. As a result, IT management is changing. Because of BYOD, the needs of users are taking front-seat to those of IT managers. They might not like it, but I believe the trend is irreversible.

It's not just that. Computers are now "reliable" and "fast enough". The need for the constant upgrade cycle has dissipated, because computers have at last arrived at 'good enough for most'. Of course you can find edge cases for higher needs, but you can't build a general business on edge cases.

For example, as an avid gamer, I was upgrading my computer in some way or other every year or so for the past (nearly) 20 years... and four years ago I bought a decent whitebox with a good video card. It still chews through new 3D games just fine at 1920x1200. Sure, could be better, but only trivially. The clear improvement-on-potential-upgrade is gone. I'm just now contemplating upgrading my 64GB SSD c: drive because, frankly, win7 filled it early and it's always been a pain to keep clear ('how' is beyond me) - but that's a software storage pain, not much of a hardware limitation. I don't feel the need to upgrade because the hardware is limited...

Yea and nay - as always with IT, the answer is "it depends". My background is with telecom giants. 'Round those parts, ain't nobody B'ing their own D. If a company does anything for the government, it may as well do everything for the government; almighty Compliance is a jealous god.

Dell's going to have to step-up their mobile front to stay competitive.

"Research group IDC said tablets will outsell all PCs in the three months to Christmas, and by 2015 they will regularly outsell PCs as consumers' tastes shift towards the more mobile format."

I wonder if Dell is trying to pull a Jobs, comeback and turn the ship around, and do something wild like neuro interface computing... Or take the game market by storm start producing XBoxOne/PS4 style consoles.

Screen resolution is the biggest handicap with most laptops today. Looking at my laptop screens after using the mobile reminds me of how good the screens on mobiles are today. It made my laptop experience worse in comparison.

Meanwhile on mobiles and tablets, touch resolution & lag are the issue.

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