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Dell feeling iPad pressure after soft notebook sales, earnings miss

post #1 of 44
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Though it didn't mention the iPad by name, PC maker Dell did say that "alternative mobile computing devices" had an impact on its sales that contributed to poor performance last quarter.

Dell Chief Financial Officer Brian T. Gladden admitted during the company's first-quarter 2013 earnings conference call on Tuesday that its results "were mixed."

"We fell short of our own expectations," he said, according to a transcript by Seeking Alpha. "There were some areas where our execution was not as expected, and there also are some market dynamics that created some headwinds for us."

The company reported a 4 percent drop in revenue to $14.4 billion and profit of 43 cents a share. The average analyst estimate had expected $14.9 billion in revenue and 46 cents a share profit, The New York Times reports.

Dell struggled with its notebook business as it contracted 10 percent over the quarter. Consumer notebook revenue in particular fell 15 percent. Stephen J. Felice, the chief commercial officer for the company, said that the consumer business was Dell's "biggest challenge in the quarter."

Dell Consumer income
Revenues and operating margin for Dell's Consumer segment | Source: Dell


Gladden said "a more aggressive competitive environment" contributed to the decline in notebook sales. He attributed the tougher environment to "channel inventory rebuilding" as a result of constrained hard drive supplies in recent quarters.

"In addition, we're seeing more consumer IT spending diverted to alternative mobile computing devices," he added. The executive didn't elaborate on what exactly the "alternative" devices were, but analysts and pundits were quick to point to Apple's iPad as the most-likely culprit.

Responding to Dell's worse-than-expected quarter and tentative guidance, investment bank Morgan Stanley lowered its fiscal 2013 revenue growth and earnings per share estimates to -3 percent and $1.98, respectively, down from 0.8 percent and $2.10 previously. Analyst Katy Huberty suggested that "tablet cannibalization" could further damage Dell as it has begun to spread to education and business sectors. Huberty predicted last April that, among PC makers, Dell was exposed to "the greatest risk" from the uptake of the iPad.

Apple's new iPad


Evercore also trimmed its earnings estimates for Dell in a note to investors early Wednesday on suspicion that the company will experience continued "PC erosion."

Felice himself hinted that preference for new form factor devices had leaked into sectors other than the consumer market. "We're also seeing some IT spending prioritized to purchase other mobile devices. Now this is mostly a consumer dynamic, but there is clearly some impact in areas of commercial as well," he said.

Dell was optimistic about the release of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system later this year, but it cautioned that it didn't expect "massive adoption" of the OS by corporations early on. Founder and CEO Michael Dell did, however, promise that the company would have a "full complement of products" at launch.

At the start of this year, Dell promised to enter the tablet market "in a bigger way toward the end of the year." Felice said the company was being "careful" about how it entered and was planning to develop for both Windows 8 and Android.

Dell's admission that the growth in other devices is affecting its notebook business came on the same day as new market research data that highlighted Apple's continued dominance in the "mobile PC" market. NPD revealed on Tuesday its estimate that Apple's mobile PC business, which includes notebooks and the iPad, grew 118 percent year over year. The iPad maker took the top spot among mobile PC makers in the first quarter of 2012 with an estimated 17.2 million units, while Dell came in fifth with shipments of 5.6 million devices.

NPD 1Q12
Worldwide top five mobile PC shipment rankings for Q1 2012. | Source: NPD DisplaySearch


Shares of Dell fell 12 percent in after-hours trading after the news. Dell's quarterly performance prompted comparisons between the changing tide of fortune for both Dell and Apple. Michael Dell famously said in 1997 that he would shut Apple down and "give the money back to the shareholders." Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs pointed out in 1996 that his rival "wasn't perfect at predicting the future" when Apple's market cap passed Dell's. As of the close of market on Tuesday, Apple's market capitalization was nearly 20 times that of its rival.
post #2 of 44
Don't they mean "smooth notebook sales?"

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post #3 of 44

When will the likes of Dell realize that people are fed up with the 90's and 2K's of making cheap junk?  It's not rocket science people.  That's what happens when you don't control the entire experience.

Shut down Dell and give the money back to the shareholders. </s>
 

post #4 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

Shut down Dell and give the money back to the shareholders.

In Michael Dell's defense on the infamous quote, he did phrase it to say what he would do which in his case would have likely been the best course of action had he been at the helm. Luckily for everyone but Apple's competitors someone with better vision and business acumen was running the company.

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post #5 of 44
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Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


In Michael Dell's defense on the infamous quote, he did phrase it to say what he would do which in his case would have likely been the best course of action had he been at the helm. Luckily for everyone but Apple's competitors someone with better vision and business acumen was running reinventing the company.

 

 

I hope you don't mind my attempt at improving upon your already insightful assertion.

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post #6 of 44

I'm shocked at this news. Just shocked.  Wait, not really. 

 

Remember when everyone was mocking and bashing Apple for missing the 'netbook train'? I do. 

post #7 of 44
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Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

I'm shocked at this news. Just shocked.  Wait, not really. 

 

Remember when everyone was mocking and bashing Apple for missing the 'netbook train'? I do. 

I remember. And I remember how cautious everyone was about saying that the iPad could blow away the netbook. Either Steve Jobs had the biggest set of balls in the universe, or he really saw the future clearer than anyone else in the industry.

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post #8 of 44

Think about it, the average pc user gets an iPad and cant surf, watch videos, twitter, face book etc without any freaking viruses whatsoever. The experience is damn near seamless. So why the hell would they want a pc after that?

Apple is making rain on these fools!!!! Dell doesn't even have a solution but to get their hands on off the shelf swag and stamp their name on it.

post #9 of 44

For those who don't already know...Dell = crap.

post #10 of 44

I thought cheap crap are awesome!

post #11 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

I'm shocked at this news. Just shocked.  Wait, not really. 

 

Remember when everyone was mocking and bashing Apple for missing the 'netbook train'? I do. 

I remember in '96 when I thought long and hard whether to upgrade all our Mac's in my Company, as everyone was telling me Apple no longer had a future. Glad I ignored them! lol.gif

post #12 of 44

Dell's biggest mistake would be failing to transition to mobile consumer solutions. They can limit the struggling PC business to the enterprise and focus on phones and tablets for the consumer market. It is unfortunate that Dell threw in the towel way too early regarding phones, as it was a pioneer with large screen phones, a direction in which every major smart phone manufacturer (including Apple) is moving now -- two years later. Merely incremental updates could have earned them a following and carved a niche in the market. Tablets are another opportunity for Dell, despite their disappointing attempt with Android and the Streak 7. They can use this experience to learn and try again with both Windows and Android -- why not even on the same hardware.

 

Michael Dell, PM me if you have questions.

 

Sent from my Dell Streak.

post #13 of 44

Dell's failure has been one of innovation.  They buy Asus/Foxconn/Intel motherboards, put them in a piece of plastic/metal and stick the Dell badge on the front - just like everyone else.

 

But wait, after installing a nice clean Windows install - they then load you down with tons of crapware with no possible way to opt out of the crapware.  So, you unpack your shiny new Dell, then spend the next couple hours uninstalling the crapware.  Here is where the fun begins.  Say that something goes horribly wrong with the uninstall - you have to re-image and Dell gives you the "extra touch" of support and re-loads the crap ware.  Gee, Thanks a lot Mikey.

 

Then, we have the comparison from the way business was done in the 1990's and today.  In the 1990's the few computer stores that were around  had 3 flavors.  Low, mid and high - no customization.  Dell solved this issue.  But, that issue simply doesn't exist today.

 

Today, you buy a new Dell.  You pay today, and in 2 weeks it will arrive at  your door.  But, let's pretend the mailman opted to drop it down a flight of stairs - through no fault of your own, you open the box to find something broken.  You call Dell - speak for a couple hours with a charming person in India and Dell agrees to ship you another Dell computer .... a refurbished computer despite the fact that you paid for a new one.  Sure, it's the same model, but it's not a new one.  The tranaction isn't complete until Dell receives your old PC a few days later.  Now, you delete the crapware, successfully, load up your software and start working.  After a couple of days of less than impressive performance, you decide that you could do better at Costco - so you call Dell to say that you simply aren't satisfied.  You explain that the performance is less than you had anticipated on your set of applications - and Dell tells you "Aww, that's too bad - your warranty has expired".  You try to explain that the first 3 weeks of your warranty were waiting for your PC to arrive (broken) and then dealing with additional delays for your "refurb".  Too bad ... eat sh*t.

 

Or, you could have walked into Walmart, come back a month later and walked back out with your cash.

post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hodar View Post

Dell's failure has been one of innovation.  They buy Asus/Foxconn/Intel motherboards, put them in a piece of plastic/metal and stick the Dell badge on the front - just like everyone else.

But wait, after installing a nice clean Windows install - they then load you down with tons of crapware with no possible way to opt out of the crapware.  So, you unpack your shiny new Dell, then spend the next couple hours uninstalling the crapware.  Here is where the fun begins.  Say that something goes horribly wrong with the uninstall - you have to re-image and Dell gives you the "extra touch" of support and re-loads the crap ware.  Gee, Thanks a lot Mikey.

Then, we have the comparison from the way business was done in the 1990's and today.  In the 1990's the few computer stores that were around  had 3 flavors.  Low, mid and high - no customization.  Dell solved this issue.  But, that issue simply doesn't exist today.

Today, you buy a new Dell.  You pay today, and in 2 weeks it will arrive at  your door.  But, let's pretend the mailman opted to drop it down a flight of stairs - through no fault of your own, you open the box to find something broken.  You call Dell - speak for a couple hours with a charming person in India and Dell agrees to ship you another Dell computer .... a refurbished computer despite the fact that you paid for a new one.  Sure, it's the same model, but it's not a new one.  The tranaction isn't complete until Dell receives your old PC a few days later.  Now, you delete the crapware, successfully, load up your software and start working.  After a couple of days of less than impressive performance, you decide that you could do better at Costco - so you call Dell to say that you simply aren't satisfied.  You explain that the performance is less than you had anticipated on your set of applications - and Dell tells you "Aww, that's too bad - your warranty has expired".  You try to explain that the first 3 weeks of your warranty were waiting for your PC to arrive (broken) and then dealing with additional delays for your "refurb".  Too bad ... eat sh*t.

Or, you could have walked into Walmart, come back a month later and walked back out with your cash.

Dell has failed in execution of its own business plan.

When Dell started out, they offered stylish (at least for a PC) computers that were delivered far faster than anyone else and were very price competitive because of incredible logistics. Most of the time, Dell was paid by its customers before they had to pay their suppliers, so Dell did not have a need for a lot of operating cash or inventory. Customer service was exceptional and there were all sorts of stories about the wonderful things Dell did with customer service. Their system was designed with extremely low overhead.

There's room in the industry for companies with a lot of different core business models. For example, one company like Apple could excel at design and ease of use. Another could excel at making extremely robust computers for difficult environments. Another might be the trendy fashion model of the industry. Another could excel at making generic systems with low overhead. And so on.

Dell's problem was not so much that their business model was bad but that the execution was muddled. They forgot what their model was. Instead of focusing on great customer service, they did some of the things you mentioned. Instead of focusing on supply chain and logistics, they branched out and tried to make innovative products. But without the DNA to do that, it was doomed to failure - and conflicted with their model. Dell stopped being a great company when the decided to try to be everything to every body. The truly great companies have a business model and then stick to it relentlessly (until they decide to change the model - and then they stick to the new model relentlessly). No one is great at all things and smart companies know when to say "we're going to pass up that market segment because it's not something we're good at". Dell never learned that.
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post #15 of 44

All Dell is is a box-maker running a whored-out OS. There's nothing impressive about that to begin with. On top of that their other devices have all failed in the market. 

post #16 of 44

Note to Editor: I believe Apple passed Dell's market cap in 2006, not 1996.

post #17 of 44
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post #18 of 44
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Originally Posted by diplication View Post

Don't they mean "smooth notebook sales?"

ha... good one :)

post #19 of 44

Dell's success was based on being an early adopter of a new distribution model (mail order over the internet) and then expanding scale. Now their distribution system is nothing unique and they no longer have the scale advantage they once had. Worse still, they are starting to contract. Contraction will just further hurt their already razor thin margins. It would not be hard for Dell to enter into a death spiral from where they are right now. 

post #20 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Instead of focusing on supply chain and logistics, they branched out and tried to make innovative products. 

 

Actually, I think they did focus on supply chain and logistics. Unfortunately, their focus lay in getting the cheapest possible prices on the cheapest possible parts. 

 

I'm mostly a Mac guy, but about 10 years ago I was on a job that required that I have a PC, so I bought a Dell notebook. It was, without question, the cheapest piece of **** I've ever owned. The plastic case gave way every single time you put your hands on the keyboard. Worse, it creaked audibly. 

 

I love well made tools, and I'm here to tell you that I HATED that computer.

 

Apple has a heavy focus on their supply chain too, but their focus usually lies in getting the best prices possible, on the best parts available. 

post #21 of 44
Sell it all and return the $ to the shareholders. Perfect and priceless. "hey dude your getting a check I the mail !"
post #22 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

I remember. And I remember how cautious everyone was about saying that the iPad could blow away the netbook. Either Steve Jobs had the biggest set of balls in the universe, or he really saw the future clearer than anyone else in the industry.

I think SJ saw the absolute ineptitude of today's adult population with regard to computing. Real computers are just too difficult for them to use or understand. Even of the people who do use notebooks, 90% of them could get by just fine, probably better, with an iPad.

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post #23 of 44
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Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I think SJ saw the absolute ineptitude of today's adult population with regard to computing. Real computers are just too difficult for them to use or understand. Even of the people who do use notebooks, 90% of them could get by just fine, probably better, with an iPad.

 

I guess that explains it's popularity amount adults, young adults, teens, and kids... or not.

 

The point is that for many tasks, an iPad is easier to carry and easier to use in circumstances and places where using a traditional notebook might be impractical (or even impossible). Standing in line, in a car, on a train or plane, perched on a bench, curled up on a couch or in bed, the tablet form factor is simply easier to use.

 

Yes, it's more accessible. But I've been working in computers for nearly 40 years now, and I'm here to tell you that I don't use may iPad daily because I don't understand "real" computers...

post #24 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahmlco View Post

Yes, it's more accessible. But I've been working in computers for nearly 40 years now, and I'm here to tell you that I don't use may iPad daily because I don't understand "real" computers...

Probably everyone on this forum falls into that same category, which as I projected, is the 10% of all notebook users who actually need a full computer. If SJ had envisioned that expert computer users would be the primary target market, the iPad would be a flop and it would also have user accessible file system, USB ports and memory card reader. It was designed for computer illiterates but is also enjoyable to use for the computer expert but in no way replaces the full computer that experts require.

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post #25 of 44
Quote:

 

Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post
Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs pointed out in 1996 that his rival "wasn't perfect at predicting the future" when Apple's market cap passed Dell's.
 

Steve Jobs said that in 2006, not 1996.

 

 

Quote:

 

Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post
As of the close of market on Tuesday, Apple's market capitalization was nearly 20 times that of its rival.
 

I'd add that when Apple's market cap first passed Dell's in 2006, Dell's market cap was roughly $72 billion.

It has declined 69%, to $22 billion, in just six years.  And it's still declining.

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post #26 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

It was designed for computer illiterates but is also enjoyable to use for the computer expert but in no way replaces the full computer that experts require.

 

Saying that it was designed for computer "illiterates" misses the point. It was designed to be easily used by everyone, "illiterates", computer users, and computer "experts" alike. 

 

And it is, in fact, replacing the need for a "full" computer for many uses and in many industries. It may not be a complete replacement for a "full" computer for "experts" yet, but it's already made tremendous inroads in the two brief years it's been available. More and more people are beginning to use it for content creation, media creation, and even for development.

 

You can be dismissive if you want, but Iit's early days, yet.

post #27 of 44

Everyone has a laptop now, there hasn't been anything new in Operating Systems, that is why notebook sales are "soft", not because of the iPad. It may be hard for you to understand this but the iPad isn't a full computer and doesn't directly compete with laptops. I have an iPad and can't imagine not having a laptop because there are so many basic functions that aren't available on the iPad. Stop hyping up the iPad, you made me waste $700 because of your hype.

post #28 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ewan View Post
Everyone has a laptop now…

 

That's not true.

 

Quote:
…there hasn't been anything new in Operating Systems, that is why notebook sales are "soft"…

 

That's not true.

 

Quote:
Stop hyping up the iPad, you made me waste $700 because of your hype

 

No, no one but yourself "made" you "waste" your money on an iPad.

post #29 of 44

Dell was the king of the mailorder clonemakers, and benefited from *not* having a retail presence back when computers cost around $2,000.  Shipping was fairly cheap, and you didn't have to pay 5-10% sales tax, which added another $100-$200 to the price of a store bought Compaq, IBM, HP, Apple, Sony or Packard Bell (remember them?) computer.  And since Dell was build-to-order, you weren't running the risk of getting yesterday's (or yesteryear's) technology, like you did if you bought a PC retail that had been sitting around in a store room at CompUSA for 6 months.

 

Dell also let you customize your machine, which again allowed you to get a lot more of what you wanted for your money.  That wasn't an option for retail boxes - you were stuck with what the manufacturer had configured them with.

 

This gave Dell huge advantages over its rivals.

 

All of those advantages started to evaporate after about 2003.  Laptops became more popular than desktops, and laptops offer fewer customization options.  HP and Compaq got better about getting fresh inventory to their retailers, and their combined size post-merger allowed them to better compete on price with Dell.  Components that used to be costly options - like advanced sound cards and 3D graphics - became standard features included on virtually all motherboards.  Worst of all for Dell, the average selling price of a desktop PC - and eventually even a laptop - fell well under $1,000.  So the whole no-sales-tax advantage for Dell fell from $100-$200 a system down to $25-$75 a system, which barely made it worth the hassle of dealing with shipping (and dealing with Dell's reviled outsourced support).

 

Dell has never successfully adjusted its business model to deal with this new operating environment, and now you're seeing the results.  Their "me too" attempts at cracking the consumerized post-PC device market have been disastrous, while they've completely missed the boat when it comes to the high-touch customer service and support model Apple applied to their PC business.  At this point I don't think there's any way out of this situation for them.  They're sorta the RIMM of the PC business, and like RIMM it's largely Apple that's eating their lunch.
 

post #30 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I think SJ saw the absolute ineptitude of today's adult population with regard to computing. Real computers are just too difficult for them to use or understand. Even of the people who do use notebooks, 90% of them could get by just fine, probably better, with an iPad.

Ineptitude is with computers is not what SJ saw. He saw computers as everyday utilitarian devices; no need to create devices which are artificially complex. The general rule I learned years ago was you don't make people pay for features they cannot or will not use; make the advanced features and cost apparent only to those needing the features. Good design comes with hiding the complexity and this is much more difficult and requires much more expertise than the opposite. Apple hides the inherent complexity better than any other company. "Easy to use", "it just works", KISS, Occam's Razor all say the same thing. As Gregory Chaitin says, knowledge and understanding is compression. 

post #31 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ewan View Post

Everyone has a laptop now, there hasn't been anything new in Operating Systems, that is why notebook sales are "soft", not because of the iPad. It may be hard for you to understand this but the iPad isn't a full computer and doesn't directly compete with laptops. I have an iPad and can't imagine not having a laptop because there are so many basic functions that aren't available on the iPad. Stop hyping up the iPad, you made me waste $700 because of your hype.

I have been using computers since my first Atari 800 and I don't have a laptop, just a handbuilt PC and a new Mac Mini. 

 

Everybody - me = NOT Everybody

post #32 of 44

I have a Dell work machine, it's truly a piece of crap. Four service calls in just over two years for a hard drive controller/audio board issue, and the battery is completely shot. This from their Vostro business line. It's no Precision or Latitude but I expected way better. Now that AutoCAD is available for Mac, I'm going to be upgrading very soon. 

post #33 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahmlco View Post

 

I guess that explains it's popularity amount adults, young adults, teens, and kids... or not.

 

The point is that for many tasks, an iPad is easier to carry and easier to use in circumstances and places where using a traditional notebook might be impractical (or even impossible). Standing in line, in a car, on a train or plane, perched on a bench, curled up on a couch or in bed, the tablet form factor is simply easier to use.

 

Yep. We use them at work all the time for all kinds of things in part because on a set, especially on location, there often aren't that many places to huddle around a laptop or even to set one down. being able to pass around something that can be held in one hand is a blessing. being able to slide it into the side pouches of the set chairs is great. no one has had an issue with getting used to typing etc. 

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post #34 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahmlco View Post

 

Saying that it was designed for computer "illiterates" misses the point. It was designed to be easily used by everyone, "illiterates", computer users, and computer "experts" alike. 

 

 

Agreed. It wasn't designed for idiots that can't handle a 'real' computer. It was designed for those that feel no need to dig around in the guts of the system but want to focus on the tasks to be done. tasks that don't necessarily need a major super strength system. Like reading email or listening to music. You don't need a 20 GHz 50 core processor, 1000 GB of RAM blah blah for that kind of task. If you are doing something that needs that, you get that kind of computer. 

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post #35 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcoleman1 View Post

For those who don't already know...Dell = crap.

Do you actually have an example or do you just make outlandish comments with no basis?

post #36 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by fredaroony View Post
Do you actually have an example or do you just make outlandish comments with no basis?

 

Do you re~ally want to go down this road? lol.gif

post #37 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ewan View Post

Everyone has a laptop now, there hasn't been anything new in Operating Systems, that is why notebook sales are "soft", not because of the iPad. It may be hard for you to understand this but the iPad isn't a full computer and doesn't directly compete with laptops. I have an iPad and can't imagine not having a laptop because there are so many basic functions that aren't available on the iPad. Stop hyping up the iPad, you made me waste $700 because of your hype.

That's a bummer that you wasted money for something you don't like. Why not sell it, you'll loose 50 - 80 bucks on the deal but it's better then owning a device you won't use. May I suggest you looking into the Asus Transformer series of tablets, maybe you could even find someone who is willing to trade with you. I think you will find a lot of those missing features in the Asus and if you don't like the OS there is a Ubuntu Linux Rom that works great now for the Transformer. Just a suggestion, I know a lot of laptop users who bought the iPad expecting a similar experience only to find out that it's nothing like it. The iPad was never intended to replace a normal computer, I don't no why people try in the first place.

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post #38 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Do you re~ally want to go down this road? lol.gif

Happy to hear some examples instead of vague child like comments.

post #39 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by fredaroony View Post
Happy to hear some examples instead of vague child like comments.

 

Of course you would. Dell is consistently at or near the bottom in ratings for hardware, software, and customer service, regardless of where you look for ratings.

post #40 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Of course you would. Dell is consistently at or near the bottom in ratings for hardware, software, and customer service, regardless of where you look for ratings.

Ahh so you don't actually have any proof but just vague accusations? Although I don't own any Dell gear as all mine is Apple, minus my phone, I use them at my work and to say they are "crap" is just juvenile. 

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