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Dell founder attacks netbooks, Vista

updated 06:05 pm EDT, Wed October 14, 2009

Michael Dell says own netbooks poor

Dell's namesake Michael Dell in a talk late Tuesday criticized both his own products and Microsoft. Despite his company offering multiple netbooks, including the Mini 10, the CEO largely dismissed the category and said a "fair amount" of buyers are unhappy with them for both their smaller screens and slow performance. Many existing notebook owners in particular often come back disappointed as they lose what they liked about their larger portables.

"Take a user who's used to a 15-inch notebook and then give him a 10-inch netbook," Dell is noted as saying by the Standard. "He'll say 'Oh, this is so cool, it's so lightweight.' Then 36 hours later he'll say the screen's not big enough, give me my 15-inch back."

The comments are a rare admission of frustration with netbooks by a Windows PC builder. Most of these have been keen to tout increased shipments but have often suffered revenue drops as the low prices and thin profit margins on these systems prevent the extra units from making up for the loss of regular notebook sales.

Apple so far has been one of the few major computer brands to actively resist entering the category at all and has attacked netbooks as slow, small and uncomfortable. In the past it has also insisted that the low pricing results in cheaply made systems that would tarnish Apple's brand were it to make a netbook of its own.

While keen to praise Windows 7, the chief executive also indirectly blamed Microsoft for creating some of Dell's sales problems and effectively accused the OS developer of hurting Dell's image with Windows Vista. Though not mentioned during the talk, compatibility, interface and performance problems triggered a backlash against Vista almost immediately and led to Dell restoring a Windows XP option in April, less than three months after Vista went on sale. Since the reappearance, Dell has gone to great lengths to keep XP an option, going so far as to allow $150 downgrades from Vista even as of today.

"If you get the latest processor technology and you get Windows 7 and Office 2010, you will love your PC again," Dell added. "And we actually have not been able to say that for a long time."

by MacNN Staff





  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    So, Michael Dell at least agrees with Apple

    on something. That netbooks are crappy and will continue to put a drag on the U.S. Windows PC computer industry. I keep saying this over and over and yet I'm slammed for being some low-cost netbook PC hater. I'd swear these netbooks are at least a two year step back for the computer industry in processing power and due to their low costs are a very poor business decision on the part of maufacturers to build them for use in the U.S. And to this day, I totally cannot comprehend why analysts were urging Apple to compete at that level and build low-quality netbooks that most users would probably outgrow in a month. How could anyone be that stupid or short-sighted. It's like they never even tried using one for themselves.

    As far as Vista goes, that certainly put a crick in the computer industry at the worst time when the recession was looming. Vista required immediate hardware upgrades and the corporate world wasn't ready for it.

    It's good that Dell was bold enough to come out and say what needed to be said for the Windows PC world.

  1. grognard

    Joined: Dec 1969


    MBA LC

    Apples 'netbook' screen size can't go below 12" 13'.

    Apple needs to offer a MBA LC - at the $599 to $799 price range. - maybe even the same form factor as the current MBA, but with a plastic case. Possibly offer the same internals of the existing MBA, and beef up the Aluminium MBA with more speed and ram, and keep it at the current price to differentiate the two. Those that have purchased the current MBA all cite the weight as the factor they enjoy most about their machines. This is what Apple needs to focus on when replacing the white macbook.

    For many this is would be all the computer they actually need. I'm using a venerable 2006 macboo right now, and even with a plastic case it is very durable, and easy to do spreadsheets, write more than five pages, design pamphlets, invoices, watch a few movies, podcasts. and of course surf the web. All this would be hard to do on a 10" screen for very more than an hour or so.

  1. Undo Redo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Those in the industry are quick to poo poo netbooks because they're less profitable than larger more expensive notebooks. Yet the little netbooks are extremely popular, and computer manufacturers can't afford not to offer them, for fear of losing customers to the competition.

    Netbooks are awesome, as inexpensive, very portable computers for accessing the internet and doing a few other tasks. Those who fail to understand this apparently need more, and are disappointed when they don't get it.

    Michael Dell evidently sees large notebook sales tanking, that's all.

  1. bosto

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    I have 10inch laptop with the resolution 1280 and is normally I can play games, surf internet so all things what can do at 15inch for me this is no problem how many inch will be monitor I need only good performance and that's all .

    Free Online Games

  1. caverbw

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Echo Undo Redo

    I was going to write a more substantive comment to such an intellectually dishonest statement by Mr. Dell--until I read Undo Redo's.

    I love my Mini 10v, and it runs 10.5 perfectly--for its purpose--which is email, web surfing and iTunes.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: agreeing with Apple

    The only thing Michael Dell and Apple agree on is that netbooks have a very low profit margin, and they would rather just have people buy much more expensive computers.

    The problem for Dell is that there are other options for buyers. If they don't build netbooks, people will just go to Acer or one of the others. Apple has a mostly complete stranglehold on the hardware side (except for the few who don't mind running OS X on PC hardware without 'support'). And they have a loyal customer base. Thus they can more easily just ignore the market.

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