Dell attempted today to rebrand itself as an end-to-end enterprise IT vendor amid slowing consumer PC sales. The company appears to be following in the footsteps of IBM, which sold its PC business to Lenovo, and HP, which came close to selling off its personal systems division last summer.
Dell won’t be getting out of the PC business completely, at least not yet. The company will continue to produce its XPS line of computers, which it cites as a success. It will, however, move away from less profitable markets including PC peripherals.
Dell used the launch of a range of enterprise technologies today to bolster its image as being primarily an IT vendor that happens to make some PCs as well.
The list of enterprise options that Dell announced today includes:
- The twelfth generation of its PowerEdge server lineup
- Next generation storage array options
- Virtual network architecture
- A lineup of desktop virtualization solutions
- A data warehouse appliance aimed at business intelligence features
All of these are profitable technologies aimed at enterprise operations and they do meet some of the trends expected to shape IT decisions in large companies over the next year or so. Dell has, of course, been in the enterprise IT space for much of the past couple of decades. By refocusing on enterprise technologies, the company will probably be able to help maintain sales of PCs to businesses buying those technologies even if it has to completely abandon the consumer market.
That said, it’s impossible to look at this news and see anything other than a company that got caught with its pants down as the consumer and business technology world was reinvented by others, most notably Apple. The iPad and the latest generation of MacBook Air models proved Apple could not only innovate but that it could do so at economies of scale that makes competition extremely tough for its competitors. The iPad has been taking bites out of the consumer PC market for two years now and is undoubtedly a factor in Dell canceling its netbook models.
Ironically, Dell’s attempt to focus on its most profitable markets while abandoning ones that are losing money or just breaking even is the polar opposite of Apple’s moves over the past year and a half, during which Apple has canceled its enterprise server products and focused on consumer devices.
One can’t help looking at the state of Dell today, scrambling to reinvent itself and remain a major player in the business world while abandoning much of its long-stranding consumer lines, and remember Michael Dell saying that if he were running Apple, he’d sell the company and give the money back to its shareholders. My inner cynic is wondering how he’d react to someone suggesting that he consider doing just that.