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Dell Rethinking the Direct-Sales Market 278

Posted by Zonk
from the breaking-with-tradition dept.
Dell has always sold directly to consumers via their web site and phone operations; it's a basic element of their business. Chairman and chief executive Michael Dell is now conceding that the company may need to rethink basic practices by considering alternative methods of selling their products. While initially no specifics are given, the thought seems to be than eventually the company will begin working with a retail chain. "Dell's direct model came under pressure as the market for PCs shifted to notebooks from desktops last year. It is harder to custom configure notebook computers, so they had to be manufactured in advance, which lost Dell some of its cost advantage. In addition, consumers were showing a preference for touching and feeling a notebook PC before buying it."
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Dell Rethinking the Direct-Sales Market

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  • Dell direct sales (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 29, 2007 @07:35PM (#18922235)
    Dell has always sold directly to consumers via their web site and phone operations;

    No they haven't. Dell got their start by selling through smaller computer chain stores before their direct phone/catalog sales and the invention of the WWW.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dfghjk (711126)
      That could not be more wrong. Dell has always sold direct. It dabbled in retail on a few occasions but not until it was well established as the leading direct sales company.
    • They also sell machines through kiosks in malls. It's nice to be able to get a feel for what you're buying.
      • by b17bmbr (608864)
        I have one in my mall. I think the thing is that they let you tough and feel and play (guess they gotta clean the keyboards) but you order it there and dell ships it to you. so it seems to be a halfway choice. I don't think you walk out that day with a laptop. of course, I asked the guy about getting it preinstalled with linux. um, nevermind...
        • by Cylix (55374)
          Hell the one I went to was a computer with a web browser.

          It's nice for the chicken and egg issue for first time buyers, but I went there hoping to find a pre-built system for work. (we needed a quickly).

          I was so annoyed and the kiosk guy completely mislead me on the phone.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jsight (8987)
        The mall kiosks are also the source of one of the funniest direct mail goofups that I've ever seen by a large company like this, as well. The back of one of their advertisements once included a map of the US states along with all of the states with the kiosks highlighted. For some reason, it caught my eye that NC wasn't highlighted, even though I knew that there was one in Concord, NC.

        Then I noticed that W. Va. was highlighted but the store address list above didn't say anything about W. Va.

        It really impr
    • by tverbeek (457094)
      Dell certainly hasn't "always" sold through the Web, because the Web didn't exist in the 1980s. Trust me: when I bought my PC's Limited Turbo XT back in 1987, the advert in (probably) PC Magazine contained only a phone number and a mailing address; nary a URL to be found. Maybe young Mike briefly tried pushing his boxes through local stores when he first started building them, but it was definitely a direct-sales-based operation by the time anyone outside of Austin noticed the company. Customer-direct sa
    • Sold direct from founding in 1984, then in 1990 tried sales through warehouse clubs and "computer superstores", but by 1996 was on the web and and back to direct mostly
    • by saboola (655522)
      In 1985 the company produced (in China) the first computer of its own design (the "Turbo PC"), which contained an Intel 8088-compatible processor running at a speed of 8 MHz. It advertised the systems in national computer magazines for sale directly to consumers, and custom-assembled each ordered unit according to a selection of options. It would seem the retail thing started in 1987, two years later.
  • by tomocoo (699236) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @07:40PM (#18922269)
    Let's not forget the fact that while Dell laptops are oftentimes nice machines, their enclosures are hideous, clunky pieces of plastic that can't hold a candle to Thinkpads or Macbooks.
    • by Kadin2048 (468275) <<slashdot.kadin> <at> <xoxy.net>> on Sunday April 29, 2007 @07:59PM (#18922387) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, I find it really odd that while the rest of the world seemingly moved on, Dell still makes laptops that are vaguely reminiscent of plumbing fixtures.

      Squarish corners, clean, straight lines, and monotone color schemes are in; Dell's laptops all cheap and plasticky compared to Apple's or IBM/Lenovo's. In particular, the two-tone color scheme they seem to like just emphasizes the seams in the case, rather than minimizing them like a single color (white, black, silver -- doesn't really matter) would. And round corners say 'toy' while square ones say 'tool,' which I think is something they ought to be going for.

      What's particularly odd is that although (at least in the black color), the better IBM/Lenovo laptops really haven't changed too much in external appearance over the years -- their styling is pretty consistent -- Dell's somehow end up looking more "dated," even though they've presumably been designed more recently.
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Looks to me like Macbooks [apple.com] have rounded corners too. In fact, I think the thinkpads are the only ones with the really square edges. Although I can't really pinpoint the problem, I have to say that I find Dell notebooks to be really ugly, especially compared to the most appealing Apple notebooks.
        • by tverbeek (457094) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @10:18PM (#18923239) Homepage
          Apple design has always revolved around the Rounded Rectangle. They've flirted with gumdrops and clamshells, and the edges got a bit pointed during the non-Jobs era, but the original Mac's UI and case design were based on the rounded rectangle, the OS API has always contained primitives for drawing rounded rectangles, and the industrial designs keep coming back to that shape. Look at the current iMac, the front view of the Mac Pro, the top view of the Mac Mini/AppleTV, the full-size iPods and iPhone, or any of the MacBooks: rounded rectangles. Sic semper.
        • by Kadin2048 (468275)
          Well, it boils down to a subjective determination either way, but the difference IMO is that the Macbooks look pretty "square," overall, in terms of being composed of straight lines, only with beveled edges to take off the sharp points. The Dells, on the other hand, not only have rounded corners but also seem to have some rounded design elements too (particularly right in front, although I suppose this is intended as a wrist rest) and this is emphasized by the two-tone plastic.

          I admit that I'm probably bias
      • by moosesocks (264553) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @10:38PM (#18923341) Homepage
        IBM decided on a minimalist design, and went with it for 15 years, and so far it's served them very very well. If you look at trends in industrial design, it's pretty obvious that minimalism and sleek likes have been a "safe" choice for the past few decades. If your design is simple, there are very few elements of it that can appear dated with time.

        Likewise, the build-quality of IBM's enslosures tends to be among the best in the business. The type of plastic they use combined with the rubberized coating holds up very well to wear and tear. Over time, this has only gotten better as they've improved upon the plastic formulation and reinforced the laptop chasis with a Titanium frame.

        Pick up a Dell laptop with one hand. It's heavy and you can feel it creaking under its own weight. Do the same with an IBM or Apple machine, and you'll feel the difference instantly.

        Dells haven't always been crap. Every now and then a legitimately good design slips through. A while ago, I had a Latitude LS [bobjohnson.com], which was an early PIII machine. It was an ultraportable, and weighed even less than my 12" Powerbook (due to its lack of optical drive, which also made it super-thin). The frame and external enclosure were both made of a durable scratch-resistant metal, and it still looks just as good as my Apple. Why Dell chose to abandon this design and continue to produce laptops based upon the Latitude C-chasis (from the early PII days, and still used in some form today) is beyond me.

        It's basically the same reason why you can tell the difference between a Benz and a Trabant [wikipedia.org].
        • by debest (471937)

          Pick up a Dell laptop with one hand. It's heavy and you can feel it creaking under its own weight. Do the same with an IBM or Apple machine, and you'll feel the difference instantly.

          I have only anecdotal evidence (two machines) to base this on, but I have two IBM laptops: a T22 (built in 2000) and a marginally larger R52 (built in 2005). The T22 is still as solid as a single chunk of metal, while the R52 has always been more "creaky". Perhaps IBMs are not as well built as they once were?

          The real test is t

          • by toddestan (632714)
            The R series is IBM/Lenovo's budget line up, and is not as solidly built as the T series. It's no surprise that you find the T22 so solid. Though don't get me wrong on the R-series, while they may be the least sturdy Thinkpad, they are still better than the most everything else out there that isn't a Thinkpad.
      • by dosquatch (924618)

        And round corners say 'toy' while square ones say 'tool,'

        Really? That's not the asthetic read I get. Rounded corners say "fit and finish" in my mind. Oh, well, to each his own.

    • by DrDitto (962751)
      Agree. The LCD hinges on my $1500 Dell notebook busted in about 18 months...the metal literally sheared off. They are replaced, but 6 months later, they are starting to make creaking noises again. What am I supposed to do? Squirt some oil in there?!

      I've been trying out a Macbook for the past week and am impressed with the build quality and some of the little details. For example, why doesn't my Dell have 2-finger trackpad scrolling? That feature is great! And why does it take my Dell notebook 2-3x
      • You say you're using Windows. Why not just set the power option to do nothing when you close the lid? Or do you want it to sleep AND keep the ssh session open? If so you should know that the Mac doesn't exactly sleep like a normal PC might; it apparently keeps the CPU running to some degree and this comes at the cost of using the battery, and losing your session entirely, if you're unplugged.
      • by frdmfghtr (603968)

        Some of these things might have more to do with the OS than the build...I wouldn't mine buying a Macbook and then installing Windows Vista if I could (sorry, OS-X is really really slick, but in some ways I prefer Windows and I have some Windows-only apps).

        I'll assume that you know you can do exactly [apple.com] that [parallels.com] so what's stopping you?

      • by garbletext (669861) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @08:50PM (#18922689)

        why doesn't my Dell have 2-finger trackpad scrolling?
        Apple has a patent (http://www.macobserver.com/article/2006/10/09.2.s html/ [macobserver.com]) on that, and would likely enforce it. Actually, some new synaptics touchpads support the feature in hw, although the functionality isn't there in the windows drivers; check out the X11 synaptics option "TwoFingerScroll".
    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      when function is the priority, you get an ugly business workstation. when form is the priority you get a nice conversation piece that takes over 20 minutes to copy a 17 meg file
    • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @08:47PM (#18922665) Homepage
      Let's not forget the fact that while Dell laptops are oftentimes nice machines, their enclosures are hideous, clunky pieces of plastic that can't hold a candle to Thinkpads or Macbooks.

      I have never seen a Dell machine that has made me think 'I have to have one of those'. I suspect that the laptops are designed to sell in bulk to corporate customers rather than stand on their own merits.

      I certainly would not buy a laptop from a company with the customer service reputation Dell has acquired of late.

      Laptops I have seen that I liked are the upmarket Apple models and the Thinkpad X60. For some reason nobody really seems to have gone after the PC market with design cues as strong as Apple's. Sony have come close at times but my experience is that their stuff is fragile.

      In the desktop area everyone I know buys Dell because they are the cheapest brand offering an acceptable level of reliability. I bought my son a machine for $500 including the flat panel monitor. Thats much cheaper than the previous one I built for him myself.

      Main problem with the Dell's is that they are horribly noisy. This is not something that reviewers think worth a mention for some reason. And when you do find comments they can be useless. If you look at any of the bulletin boards for reviews of high end machines there is always a post from some poor slob who claims to have invested his college fund in an Alienware or the like which came in the wrong shade of green and they took two years to fix it attached to the very latest model.

      The PC market seems to be dominated by the DIY aesthetic. Real men don't buy ready made machines. They buy the parts and fit them together. Time is a much more scarce resource for me than money and I don't want a machine that looks like a kit. Thats probably why people by the Voodoo elemental, they just get fed up having to explain to people that they don't need to save $500 building the machine themselves from parts so they drop $3500 having a $7000 machine gold plated. I bought the baseline BAM model and told the wife how much I saved by not going for the 'gold plated' edition, she still thinks it was a figure of speech. Good thing she doesn't read either Slashdot or the Amex bill.

      • by rolfwind (528248)
        The only reason I DIY is that I often find the tradeoff between quality and price on any of the prebuilt ones.

        If I buy a cheap machine, I find the components to be cheap (duh) and by the time I price out a quality machine I could do it myself because they start charging an arm and a leg (and from the prebuilt I'm not always assured I get quality components as they often list features, not models - like motherboards, etcetera).

        I wish I could find someone that is reasonable - I don't don't mind paying a small
      • by kestasjk (933987)
        My Inspiron 2200 looks excellent; it's not one of those glossy screen silver abominations, I've had people comment on how good it looks, and the call-out support has been excellent. When some of my memory failed support came out the next day to replace it.
    • ... the first person who accuses Dell of copying Apple's sales model of they go retail?

      I'm a big Apple fan, but I still expect some retard to make some comment like that.

      I wouldn't place Apple and IBM (Lenovo) in the same camps in terms of design -- plenty of people find the Thinkpads to be pretty ugly, and it is true that their design has not changed much in a long time, where Apple's are considered to be very attractive.

      Where they both shine is in build quality. You can pick up any Apple notebook or Thin
      • by xSauronx (608805)
        ive got an inspiron 1000 that has taken a surprising beating, and is quite sturdy. *grabs it by the corner* yeah. no problem.

        of course, its ugly as hell. and oldish, but it works fine and its been dropped 2 or 3 times without a problem. *shrugs* maybe i got lucky? i probably did, but, whatever, it works ;)

    • by MojoStan (776183)

      Dell laptops are oftentimes nice machines, their enclosures are hideous, clunky pieces of plastic that can't hold a candle to Thinkpads or Macbooks.

      I think it's important to differentiate among the cheap Dell Inspiron home-oriented laptops, the more reliable Dell Latitude business/pro laptops, and the high-end Dell Precision mobile workstations. The Inspiron line also differs in quality/looks from their "basic computing" models to their "enthusiast" models (their enclosures are much different).

      Thinkpads aren't in the same class as the cheaper Lenovo 3000 series notebooks. The MacBook Pro is not in the same class as the MacBook (non-Pro). A MacBook (

      • by DrDitto (962751)
        See my previous comment in this thread about the hinges breaking on my $1500 Dell laptop. It is a D600, which is not far off from a D620
  • seems worse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Original Replica (908688) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @07:40PM (#18922273) Journal
    How do you stock up to date hardware in brick and mortar stores? I never buy from physical stores because everything is lagging 3 months behind in price and technology.
    • by B3ryllium (571199)
      There should at least be demo units, so you can get a feel for the keyboard and track pad; those features often vary by manufacturer, and they are vital to a good user experience.

      I hate-hate-hate the Toshiba inverted upside down "L" enter key. It's impossible to work with. So, I stay away from *all* Toshiba laptops online, because I don't have the tactile in-person guarantee that I will find their keyboard acceptable.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Propaganda13 (312548)
        Dell does have kiosks in malls to show some of their product already.
      • I hate-hate-hate the Toshiba inverted upside down "L" enter key. It's impossible to work with. So, I stay away from *all* Toshiba laptops online, because I don't have the tactile in-person guarantee that I will find their keyboard acceptable.

        I'm pretty sure that's not just a Toshiba thing, or at least they didn't really invent it. I used to have a Panasonic electric typewriter (one of the very late, high-speed, daisy-wheel ones) that had the same thing. I was never clear on what its purpose was, or if it was a Japanese thing or a legacy of some older typewriter keyboard. (Oddly enough, though, modern Panasonic computers such as the Toughbooks don't have it.)
        • by B3ryllium (571199)
          Wyse supplied us some keyboards with that format for our 5150 and S50 units ... we sent them back. Our users hated them.

          One or two made it out "into the wild", though, and those particular users never complained. So I guess people can get used to it. But man ... programming on that would be a pain in the butt. Especially with the short shift key on the other side.
    • Re:seems worse (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @08:22PM (#18922527)

      How do you stock up to date hardware in brick and mortar stores? I never buy from physical stores because everything is lagging 3 months behind in price and technology.
      Thus putting you somewhere near the 99th percentile of the general pool of home PC purchasers. For everyone else, they won't even notice the difference. That's one reason why HP has been kicking Dell's ass in the home pc market recently.
    • by peragrin (659227)
      I actually ran into this in another product. I was looking at new USB thumb drives on Newegg. roughly $40 for a 4 gig, $80 for 8 gig and $150 for a 16 gig drives.

      while out shopping I stopped in at CompUSA. 4 gig was on sale at $60, and the 8 gig was on sale for $110.

      Gateway has already tried the direct box order from our shiny store routine, and it killed them. Then again i wouldn't cry if dell died out too.making 1/2 a percent profit on hardware alone will kill anyone. Yep That's right Dell makes 1
    • Most people that buy a Dell (your average consumer), are not aware that the hardware lags three to four months behind. They simply want a machine that can run latest game x or be used for college course y or whatnot.

      They aren't going to know the difference unless it is something major. Dell knows this. They also know that consumers who want the latest items and prices are usually smart enough to look online. By working with retailers they will reach a larger consumer market.
    • for all the crap walmart takes, their laptops are actually a decent deal. I got an Acer 5610Z for $650 a month ago when my 4 year old dell inspiron 8500 died. What does $650 buy you? It came with 1gb of ram, Core 2 duo at 1.6ghz, DVDR/RW and a beautiful 1280x800 15" screen. It also has all the major cardreaders built in, and the best wifi antenna I have ever seen in a laptop (I think the antenna goes up the screen). At that price, you get intel integrated graphics, but since the screen resolution isn't
  • ...considering how your average Dell customer is probably not the most tech literate, might have boogeyman type issues with buying something online, and might not have a Dell booth at a mall near them.
  • by Glowing Fish (155236) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @07:48PM (#18922319) Homepage
    It is harder to custom configure notebook computers, so they had to be manufactured in advance

    I think that this might have to do with the shift to the laptop market. A shift that I am not convinced is permanent. And if the shift to the laptop is permanent, there will have to be changes.
    This might seem like an overly harsh judgement, but to me the major reason for adopting laptops is sex appeal. Most people who want laptops seem to be impressed by how sleek they look, and by how cool it is to hang around in a coffee shop with a laptop. I know there are plenty of people who need laptops for their jobs, but I still think the majority of people are looking at them as an accessory. And most of these people don't know what they are getting into, because after a year or so, when the proprietary screen cracks, or the proprietary power supply goes dead, or any of the other little pieces no longer work, people are very surprised that they have to spend time and money searching for a replacement.

    I think that as the laptop market matures, and people have this happen, there may be some demand to standardize laptop parts. This will change both how easy it is to custom make laptops, amongst other things.
    • by hey! (33014) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @07:56PM (#18922371) Homepage Journal
      No, the reason laptops are popular with employees is that you can work any time you want.

      The reason laptops are popular with employers is that you can work any time they want.

      The reason that desktops used to be popular is that they used to much cheaper, and they were easier to repair which is important when computers are expensive. Neither of these apply so much. It is quite practical to replace laptop every two years or so, which is about right given technology cycles driving hardware requirements, and the fact that you've been working every waking moment.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        I kept my last computer for 7 years. It was a PII-266. I did do a couple upgrades on it, RAM, video card, hard disk, but only minimally, and the only reason I got a new one was because I had some RAM chips die, and buying SDRAM was almost as much as buying a new computer, so I figure it was time to upgrade. Now I have an AMD64 3200+. This computer should last me another 7 years, unless my needs change drastically. Which I suspect they won't. I don't many games, I have a console for that, and I don't r
        • by SleepyHappyDoc (813919) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @09:05PM (#18922781)
          That's a nice little anecdote. Unfortunately, everyone in the world isn't you, and as such, some people may have differing computer needs. I edit high definition video...a PII-266 wouldn't cut it, nor would your new AMD64 3200+. It's worth it for someone like me to buy a new computer every six months..the tech is advancing fast enough that the latest CPU will be a noticeable upgrade (quad core made a heck of a difference over dual core from six months earlier, for video editing), and the old machine can still find a nice home in a cluster for rendering the effects.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by CastrTroy (595695)
            Anecdotes are nice aren't they. I like yours too. However, I think more people have similar usage patterns to me more than you. I check email, do some programming, browse the web, edit some photos, write up documents, manage my finanaces, and play a few simple games. None of those require high powered computers. And while I see the need for having very powerful computers for tasks such as HD video editing, I think that 90% of the general computing population could do without that much computing power,
            • by Junta (36770)
              Assuming your opinion is more reflective of reality, it isn't all that appealing of a world for a complete system vendor to target. If usage is still predominantly desktops, that still says nothing of sales. The very advantages of desktops that are called out (upgradeability, maintainability) work against a company trying to sell new systems.

              Now, your described usage pattern further explains why the laptop market would be the dominant one sales-wise. Looking at systems that are 'good-enough' in the tradi
          • Very interesting. -if I may post offtopic.... I'm an amateur (technically...) but I sure do a lot of video. I haven't upgraded my board/chip for something like 3 years.

            What kind of render time improvement did you see moving to quad? What did you have before?

            What about for the last few upgrades you did, from what to what and how much did it help? (sorry if I'm asking to much, a wag is fine)

            I did a comparison rendering a benchmark .veg file on my main edit box, an athlon XP 2500+ and then did the s
      • More like anywhere.

        If my boss needs to send me to out to another plant, I take my laptop home for the weekend. If I need to show some information off at a meeting, I just take my laptop and plug it in. All my data is on my computer. I don't have to worry about a few different versions of the same file. Heck, if I'm sitting at my own desk and I feel like sitting on the other side I can pick my computer up and move it.

        I don't think I could ever get used to the idea of going back to a Desktop, even for person
    • by realmolo (574068)
      I think notebooks are here to stay. The market will only get bigger.

      The thing is, even the low-end notebooks are powerful enough for almost anything, except modern games. And they're CHEAP. And you can surf on your couch with a wireless router. And you can take it with you on vacation. There are just a million advantages. And, of course, you can plug in a real keyboard/mouse/monitor if you want.

      Notebooks are really how computers *should* be. Yes, they are hard to repair, but so what? They're cheap, an
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Short Circuit (52384) *

        Yes, they are hard to repair, but so what?

        So I've had to pay a guy $150 for different repairs, where if I'd been using a desktop, I would have done it myself.

        So it's difficult to upgrade the CPU when something better comes along. (Socket? We don't need no stinkin' socket.)

        So it's difficult replace the optical media drive if it breaks, or if I just want to be able to burn dual-layer DVDs instead of just CD-Rs. And forget about getting the right faceplate...

        About the only upgrades I've been able to perform on my laptop without assistance are repla

        • by arminw (717974)
          ......About the only upgrades I've been able to perform on my laptop......

          Why upgrade a computer any more than a refrigerator or TV set? Computers have become appliances you just replace when they break or no longer do some job you wish to use them for. Alternatively. find a dedicated use for them. An old broken freezer makes a mouse proof feed container for horses.

          One of our 2001 Apple laptops makes a great video/music player. It also works great for listening to Internet radio. I wouldn't use it for photo
    • by Rob.Mathers (527086) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @08:16PM (#18922487) Homepage
      While you list valid issues with laptops vs. desktop, a lot of consumers just don't care that much. Computers have become a commodity good, and people toss them aside as such. It doesn't matter if it dies in 2 years, because by then people want the latest and greatest anyways, and when you can get one that does everything you need for well under a grand, a lot of people won't hesitate to get a new one, whether or not it's the most economical and efficient thing to do.

      I think standardisation of laptop parts isn't that likely to happen any time soon, mostly due to hesitance on the part of the manufacturers. They use those non-standard parts to squeeze the most they can into tiny spaces, and differentiate themselves from their competitors, since they can't do so on features very much. Why pay more for Lenovo's build quality if it's the exact same parts as HP's, or why pay more for Sony's design if the cases are available elsewhere? (examples obviously)
    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      ubiquitous wi-fi is what made the laptop market grow.

      also the fact that 900 will get you a nice one and 6-700 will still get you something useful.
    • Laptops are a fassion excessory. So what. We shouldn't let ourselves beleave that they shouldn't be. I have a new Shny MacBook Pro. Mostly because I like OS X over Windows and Linux (my preference) and I do a fare amount of graphical work, and I work with systems on different Evnroments Unix one day Windows the next VMS the third day and Mac OS does a good job playing middle of the road in compatability, espectailly with Parrales running, it has a good CPU and Good memory and a decent video card. But why
  • That is a mistake (Score:5, Informative)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @07:56PM (#18922369) Journal
    What they need is to have new models. The difference between theirs and say a cheap chinese model is minimal. They need to start innovating again. If they start selling Linux, that is to their advantage. If they developed new ideas, rather than just rebranding others, that is to their advantage. But as it stands, Dell will continue losing ground esp if they start selling their system via regular sales channels.
    • If they start selling Linux, that is to their advantage.

      Yes, it is to their advantage from the viewpoint of the 1% of the consumer PC market that demands it. Linux hasn't been to the advantage of a consumer PC maker any time it's been tried, what has changed since the last time? Linux servers probably sell pretty well, but that's a different game.
      • If a major company like this pushes Linux on the desktop, can you guarantee that they will get no sales? Back in the old days, when Compaq, IBM, HP, Dec, and SGI were not supporting Linux on their systems, everybody claimed that it would never sell. Once these companies started selling it on servers, they saw major jumps. Point is nobody really knows what will happen.
  • Dell's slide... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by raydobbs (99133) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @07:56PM (#18922373) Homepage Journal
    Coming from someone who used to work at a retailer who serviced machines - Dells are the WORSE. The quality of their product has gone downhill ever since the late ninties - and now are just horseshit. Specialized cheap hardware with crappy support. They reap what they sew in this case. People have stopped shopping with Dell not because they are direct-to-customer - they have stopped because the product is poor, and there are better alternatives now.
    • Re:Dell's slide... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bilbus (999819) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @08:25PM (#18922547)
      Bullshit, dell is just as good as anyone else ... they use the same components as hp and ibm. Hell everything has broadcom now. I have never had a problem with a dell .. that was not easly fixed. As for service you do know EVERY maker outsources their support to local repair shops. So if you have a problem its the local serivce shop thats to blame, talk to your rep and get that fixed. I like dell because i can call one person/team to order, ask questions or get support. Try that with IBM. With Toshiba if you bought it from a store you need to find your paperwork before anyone will help you. With HP you can get support from them directly but you need to buy from resellers .. and dell's prices are almost always better. As for the earler poster ... dell has been a little behind in invoation, but the ultra highend server market is not where dell wants to be. Their servers are aimed at the low to mid range markets ($1,000-$20,000). If you want a ultra high end server IBM/HP is the leader. As for linux ... are you kidding me there is NO market for linux on the desktop. As for servers why would they preinstall linux for you, you are going to format and install your choice on there anyhow, you can get the servers with no os installed.
      • Re:Dell's slide... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @09:08PM (#18922809) Homepage Journal
        Bullshit, dell is just as good as anyone else ... they use the same components as hp and ibm. Hell everything has broadcom now.

        Using the same chips alone doesn't mean that the entire systems have comparable build quality, if that's what you are implying.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DigiShaman (671371)
          I refurbished Dell laptops and desktops at one of their buildings in Austin, TX (six month contract during the tech depression). I found it interesting that the parts they use are no different then what HP, Compaq, IBM, and Gateway have used as well. For example, the LCDs were LG or Samsung brand. Power supplies were LG, Lite-0n, or Delta brand. CDROM drives were provided by the above mentioned brand and then some...

          Basically, the failure rate on Dell machines are probably no different as the entire industr
          • I found it interesting that the parts they use are no different then what HP, Compaq, IBM, and Gateway have used as well.

            May true from a wide perspective, but you negelected to mention (or didn't notice during your work) that Dell is notorious for mixing and matching parts on identical models.

            While that may not be a big deal for the average Windows user, if you're running something other than Windows, and discover that those servers you ordered don't all work as expected, or that the last batch of laptops c
      • So if you have a problem its the local serivce shop thats to blame, talk to your rep and get that fixed. I like dell because i can call one person/team to order, ask questions or get support. Try that with IBM.

        I did. Worked out pretty well. I bought a thinkpad in 2004 and it didn't come with windows reinstall/restore discs. I called up IBM's support number, spoke to someone who actually speaks english in a matter of minutes, and they sent me the restore discs via overnight shipping for free.

        Now not only was

    • Whenever anything breaks on one of my dell machines - which has been a little more frequent than I'd have liked, they'll have someone at either my home or office the following business day to do the repair.

      I've had a screen replaced for dead pixels months after i bought the machine. I had a battery replaced because it's life deterioated unacceptably. They replaced a piece of plastic round the keyboard that had cracked on a 2.5 year old machine. My company recently spec'd out a desktop and the website let us
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 29, 2007 @08:07PM (#18922417)
    ... liquidate the company's assets and distribute the proceeds to the shareholders.
    • No, your thinking of Microsoft. Close, but no cigar.
      • by reidconti (219106)
        I love your Monty Python "taunt you a second time" signature. Unfortunately you are the one who missed the boat this time.

        Michael Dell has, at least once, said that Apple should liquidate all of their assets and give the proceeds back to the shareholder. That is why his comment is funny. Or was, before it had to be explained.

        Also you used "your" in place of "you're."

        Neither are major miscues, but for some reason your signature (while taken in good humor) prompted me to reply when I would not have otherwi
  • I had a Dell Inspiron i8k. While it was a beast to lug around, I loved the thing. I took it around the world 3 times - my back has less fond memories - but never have I sat at a laptop since with such a reassuring feeling of robust design, right up there with the Apple G3 but with a better keyboard. I dropped it several times, tipped fortified wine all over it, used it in clubs and bars on a world tour and suffered upon it all manner of other sins to the soul of electric things.. yet never did it yield. The
  • by postbigbang (761081) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @08:24PM (#18922541)
    Whenever sales go into the crapper, it's every direct-model vendor's sworn duty to look at "the channel". I can't tell you how many times Dell's announced that they'll do right by "the channel" who uniformly hates Dell's very existence for sins over two decades. Dell's advertisements dissed "the channel", and each time Dell tried to bolster sales by stuffing alternate channels with product, the price dropped out like a rock, no one made any money, and Dell got a nice looking quarter to report to Wall Street. Yet people fall for it every time.

    It's like the Look-Mikey Uses Linux PR that so many swallowed hook, line, and sinker.

    Dell was built on direct sales. They do it very well. They found that they can't do support out of India for domestic North American consumption, and so their costs are up. Once again, they'll have to squeeze somebody to make their quarter look good to Wall Street. Guess who it is this time.
  • Every time I call Dell service, I get some guy who requests a number from my PC.

    I OWN TWO DELL MONITORS

    Actually, I did buy a PC on my account, but I bought it for my parents and it is 7 states away.

    So when I call in for technical support for my monitors, one of which had a short circuit last weekend, it takes at least an hour to even begin actioning the call. I have to explain that this is in no way related to the computer that I don't actually OWN, and it relates to DELL monitors that are not associated
  • by vux984 (928602) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @08:43PM (#18922639)
    Around here, they have Dell kiosks in the mall to showcase their products. Sort of like the sony stores. You can go an touch and see a Dell, and then order it up and it gets delivered to your door.

    Its good marketing. Even if the kiosks never actually sell a unit, just having them out there will give the 'i wanna touch it' crowd that security so they can go home and order online with confidence -- and hey I'm not mocking them, I am in that crowd. You really have to feel a laptop to determine its weight, get a sense of its build quality, feel the keyboard and trackpad, evaluate screen viewing angle, brightness etc.

    Plus it strengthens the brand recognition, and can put a human face on the transaction.

    All these things benefit Dell.
    • by MojoStan (776183)

      Around here, they have Dell kiosks in the mall to showcase their products. Sort of like the sony stores. You can go an touch and see a Dell, and then order it up and it gets delivered to your door.

      Information on the kiosks are a little difficult to find on Dell's web site, but Dell calls them Dell Direct Stores [dell.com]. I think they sound great (I don't mind waiting for delivery), but my problem with the kiosks is that there's not enough of them. It's much, much easier to "touch and see" an HP (they're everywhere). Where I live, it's easier to drive to an Apple Store than find a Dell Direct Store (I guess this varies with location).

      Having never gotten around to visiting a Dell kiosk, do they have their bu

  • A few years ago, I applied to work for a shopping mall kiosk where people could get hands-on with Dells and purchase them as well.

    Costco has been selling Dells for years.

    I buy 20 or so Dells each year and I've always done it through their website. I'd never go to the store and buy a pre-configured computer unless it was really well configured and/or really cheap.
  • When I worked at Best Buy I can't tell you how many people I had come up to me and ask me where we kept out Dells. After I told them that we didn't sell Dell computers, they would walk out.
  • by Shanoyu (975)
    Step 1: prove to me your computer is not a lemon
    Step 2: give me financing
    Step 3: profit
  • by petrus4 (213815) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @09:35PM (#18922947) Homepage Journal
    ...and probably never will.

    I am on a disability support pension, and get around $500 AUD for hardware upgrades, once every 12 months. There is a local (relatively small) computer repair place near where I live, which I go to every year. Because I went there last year, and am almost certain to go there next year, the guy there realises that although it isn't much, my money is a relatively sure thing for him. Not only that, I've managed to get him some additional business from other family members at times as well.

    Due to the above however, I am able to get a new case, motherboard, processor, and ram from him for that $500 (maybe $580) each year. This also means that I can buy a box one year, and a monitor the next, at the rate that I can afford it.

    If I went to one of the chain stores here and asked for a Dell, I wouldn't be quoted a price of much less than $2,000, and the only way I could hope to pay for that would be on credit, which being on a pension I probably wouldn't be able to get. Due to the precarious nature of my financial situation I also wouldn't want it, even if they were willing to give it to me.

    Dell (and the other big OEMs) are a bad thing, in my mind. In addition to the inflexibility on price, I've known a couple of other people who've bought complete systems and been given faulty hardware; I myself got burned on that score the one time I was able to do it. Not only that, Microsoft's monopoly only really exists because of people like Michael Dell; his profit margin per unit is so small that they are able to bully him in terms of the price of Windows, and dictate that people pay such things as the "Microsoft tax," as well as making it as difficult as it is for other operating systems (such as Linux) to enter the market.

    I realise that for some people, technical knowledge and other reasons prevent them from going to the little guy and buying parts; but if you can do it, I advocate it. Not only will it be cheaper in most instances, in my experience you have less chance of getting faulty hardware, and you also don't end up supporting one of the big corporate behemoths that I know people on Slashdot hate so much. ;) It's a win all around.
    • by eebra82 (907996) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @10:22PM (#18923279) Homepage
      I am sorry to hear about your disability and what it means to your economy, but without sounding too harsh, you are not the reference customer Dell is going for.

      Dell isn't the cheapest alternative you can get, but there is more to it than just price. For example, a lot of people care more about the on-site support and such. And I really can't say they are that expensive either. Surely, a pre-configured computer is almost always cheaper, it is rarely everything you want.

      You say that Dell and other big OEM:s are a bad thing. I have to disagree there. Without them, we would have fewer industry standards and we would probably end up having regional settings to everything. At least these giants push to unify hardware. Also, they do bring a lot of competition to the table, which is always a good thing for the customer. A zillion small retail chains around the world would also eventually turn into a few after some time, simply because one would eventually do better than the other, buy the latter one and continue with its expansion. That's how it works.

      My company has been buying computers from Dell for years. I don't know how your friends would end up with faulty hardware like that, but it is a rarity here. Of course computers fuck up every now and then, but Apple's batteries explode, the Volvo cars get tire dents and your shoe laces will be torn eventually.

  • Maybe it's time for standardized components for laptops like cases and motherboards. The market is now here to allow people to build their own.

    Desktop market is not dead. They are still wanted for hardcore gamer rigs, HTPC, and budget computers.
  • Well, sure ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @09:43PM (#18923021)
    In addition, consumers were showing a preference for touching and feeling a notebook PC before buying it.

    No kidding ... if you buy a desktop system and decide you don't like the keyboard or mouse you just replace them with something better. Don't like the keyboard or pointing device on your laptop? Just replace the whole laptop with something better.
  • Dell is a great choice, but it has its flaws. In fact, I am surprised they didn't foresee this need long ago. The indications of an increase in laptop sales has been somewhat apparent to most of us.

    The reasons people prefer to see the laptop in real life before purchasing it are very simple:

    - You cannot hide it in a locker if it's ugly.
    - The keyboard and screen must feel good - it's irreplaceable.
    - The hardware must meet your demands - most of it is irreplaceable.
    - You want to know how the laptop c

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