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Michael Dell on Surface tablet: 'The impact will be limited'

Tom Spring | Sept. 27, 2012
Michael Dell has reached a crossroads.

Michael Dell has reached a crossroads. PC sales are slowing to a crawl as tablets and smartphones capture more consumer dollars every year. What's the founder and CEO of the third largest PC manufacturer to do?

If you think Dell is ready to give up on the PC, think again. When asked about the so-called post-PC era, he says "the post-PC era has been pretty good for PCs so far," noting that 380 million PCs were sold in 2011. Nevertheless, as I learned in the course of swapping email messages with Michael Dell for this Q&A, even though Dell may be remaining true to its PC roots, its also moving at lightning speed into the future.

Hybrid laptops; Windows 8 tablets; and a Dell-powered ecosystem of networking, storage, security, servers, virtualization, and cloud services define Dell today. Thats a far cry from the Dell that wrote the book on direct-sale PCs and e-commerce back in the 1980s.

Today Dell faces serious challenges. Critics have accused it of missing the mobile revolution (despite its having tested the waters in 2010 with its Dell Streak tablet line). And since the iPhone was launched in 2007, Dell has lost 60 percent of its market value.

So what does Michael Dell have to say about his company today?

PCWorld: Since your return to Dell, you have been redefining the company. Can you tell people what Dell is today and what it will be in five years?

Dell: Weve undergone a significant transformation, but were not as different as you might think. Dell has always been about creating customer value and solving customer problems. For a long time we did that by advancing personal productivity through devices and the adoption of the PC.

Today were still very focused on helping our customers get more value and better results from technologybut customer needs have changed, and we now offer a much broader set of solutions. Its really an exciting time to be in IT. Innovations in areas like cloud, mobile, and big-data analytics are changing the way the world works, and were aligning our business with these new opportunities to better serve our customers. In five years, I expect well be leading the way as an end-to-end IT solutions provider, but in some ways, well also be the samemeaning very attuned to the needs of our customers.

PCW: Do you see Dell adopting ARM-based products at some point? What can you tell us about upcoming Dell branded smartphones and Windows RT tablets?

Dell: Yes, the Dell XPS 10, a 10-inch tablet with ARM and Windows RT, debuted at IFA last month. Its among the latest additions to our XPS product line and a great reflection of how were approaching mobility and the consumerization of IT. These end-user devices are designed for our core customer setcommercial and mobile professionalsand are optimized for management, security, and productivity.


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