Some of us met Dell Inc.’s Michael Dell this week—although we may have missed him had we blinked. And yes, Constant Reader, that probably explains the shortness of this piece.
It’s become the norm for flaks to organize “exclusive” briefings for visiting chief executive officers with senior hacks. The good thing about the meeting with Dell was that only a few editors were invited. You realize the extent of the media boom only when you attend a lunch or dinner for editors with Ratan Tata and discover that there are around a hundred editors—including a couple from Mint—who have been invited. The bad thing was that it lasted 29 minutes—yes, timed it—which meant that some of the editors present in the room (this writer not included) and who were slow on the draw didn’t get to pose the man any questions at all.
There were a couple of things Dell said, however, that were very interesting. Responding to a question on Dell’s troubles in recent years and its efforts to reinvent itself, he said the company found strategies that it had employed for the first 20-25 years of its existence were not working any longer. And so, he added, Dell had gone back and revisited everything—its structure, geographical strategy, supply chain, and plan for services.
Illustration: Jayachandran / Mint
Interestingly, Dell doesn’t seem to believe in the netbook revolution although this was responsible for Acer all but catching up with Dell (the current No. 2) in terms of units sold last year. Still, Dell said that this year, notebooks were selling more than netbooks, and if that’s true for the large computer makers, it would seem to suggest that netbooks—I must confess to having acquired one, an Acer—were a passing phase.
He did make the requisite noise about smartphones, but didn’t really say anything about the when and the where. That’s another revolution in India, and one that is being at once both tapped and fuelled by unlikely companies—Indian-born firms such as Micromax Informatics Ltd. That, though, is probably subject for another Acute Angle.
PS: Before I set out to meet Dell, I did what I usually do—looked up Google News. While I did search for Michael Dell, all the initial results were for his brother Adam. Why am I not surprised?