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Is the PC dead? Not at Dell, which is doubling down

Rob Enderle | June 2, 2014
For Dell, reports of the personal computer's death have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, the company's seeing good growth from its PC and thin client lines. Credit new designs, higher screen resolutions, a program for helping users migrate from Windows XP -- and a steadfast refusal to believe the hype about the death of the PC.

In addition, Dell focused on design, bringing to market some of the most attractive products the company has ever fielded. I'm writing this on a new Dell Latitude laptop. It's an impressive product.

The company continues to provide XP migration services, too, having migrated around 8,000 customers from that obsolete platform to date. In the midst of this, Dell customer satisfaction scores are at all-time highs - largely because the company is fighting the perception that PCs are dead and investing to ensure it provides the best PCs in the market.

This will continue. In next few months, Dell plans to announce an all-in-one thin client, a commercial chrome laptop and a commercial 2-in-1 (a 13-inch Windows tablet with removable keyboard), followed by a similar consumer product, a micro-desktop and a few things I'm not allowed to mention yet.

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Nearly 500 million PCs are more than four-years-old. That's a massive opportunity for PC replacement. Dell is competing to replace most of it - not only fighting the belief that PCs are dead (supporting this with its growth numbers) but hedging its bets with Dell Chromebook 11 (targeted to education) and other thin clients to assure that Dell benefits no matter which way the market jumps.

There's a lesson here: Just because everyone says something is true doesn't mean it is. It takes a lot to displace a dominant technology; tablets, so far, have bounced. Yes, overall PC shipments have declined, and Dell alone can't flip this trend, no matter how much it grows. However, the mainframe market fell around IBM, leaving it as the only vendor and at a level of dominance it never had even at its mainframe peak. If this happens in the PC market, Dell plans to be the last one standing.

There's another lesson here: Perceptions can become reality even if they're wrong. Dell is trying to prove wrong the perception that the PC is dead, and clearly benefiting from its position, but this perception must change for Dell to reap the benefits. That's why Dell works so hard to showcase that reality differs greatly from perception.

It helps that Dell is now private, too - financial analysts like conformity, and Dell refuses to conform to a stupid (though clearly prevalent) perception.


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