Is Dell Too Obsessed with Hewlett-Packard?
Healthy competition is good for technology companies — and good for their customers. But The VAR Guy is starting to wonder if Dell is too obsessed with Hewlett-Packard. Let him explain.
When The VAR Guy opened the March edition of CIO Insight magazine, our resident blogger noticed a full-page Dell server advertisement stating: “Simpler Setup HP Can’t Beat.” Readers who follow an advertised URL will find a Dell Web page, which claims Dell’s blade servers perform better than IBM Blade Center alternatives.
Apparently, the old rules of advertising — “never mention the competition” — are gone. As one recent Dell hire told The VAR Guy, “this place is obsessed with beating HP.”
But is that a healthy obsession? When you’re a market leader, remaining paranoid about emerging rivals can work out well. (Examples: Microsoft vs. Netscape, Intel vs. AMD). But when you’re trying to restore growth and business momentum, getting caught up with the competition can cause you to lose focus on your customers.
Learning From Apple
Consider the history at Apple. In the 1990s, Apple tried to compete again and again against Microsoft, and failed multiple times. Projects like Pink, Copland, Taligent and Kaleida imploded because much of Apple’s motivation was to beat Microsoft in the operating system game.
Fast forward to present day and Apple’s focus is dramatically different. Instead of trying to compete head-on with Microsoft, Apple repeatedly changes the rules of the game. The iMac was about simplicity rather than horsepower and megahertz (and now gigahertz). The iPhone about a killer interface — rather than pocket Office applications. When Apple started to get some momentum, the company poked fun at Windows through clever TV ads.
Now, back the situation at Dell. Perhaps obsessing over HP is warranted. After all, there’s no denying that Dell competes head-on with HP in notebooks, desktops, servers, and now printers. But some of Dell’s recent business deals — acquiring Silverback Technologies and Everdream; partnering with open source VoIP specialist Fonality, etc. — could allow Dell to break out of its classic box.
As Dell begins to figure out its managed services and partner strategies, there should be less temptation to mention the competition in advertisements.
Is Dell too obsessed with HP? Frankly, The VAR Guy isn’t sure. Perhaps our resident blogger is too obsessed with Dell…