Dell gets into the

According to Michael Dell, the PC is not dead – it may in fact be set for a resurgence.

Dell, 35-year-old chairman and CEO of Round Rock, Tex-based Dell Computer Corp., was in Toronto recently to promote his company’s shift in focus from a PC supplier to an Internet computing company.

“Canada is an important market to us because of its leadership position in Internet usage,” he said, citing IDC Canada research that shows Dell Canada has moved into the number three position in Canadian PC shipments, and the number two position in the desktop and server market. “We are now focused and determined to close the gap, and move into the number one position in Canada,” he said.

Currently, the PC market is still a large one, but is not growing as fast as it has in the past Dell said.

“If you are looking for the lowest priced PC with obsolete technology, then Dell’s not the place to go. But if you are looking for the hottest technology – come and get it,” he said. “The desktop PC is here to stay. But if you are not Dell, your market is shrinking.”

However, Dell believes an upcoming increase in broadband penetration will actually help to fuel the PC market as it will “fundamentally change” the consumption of data. People will use the Internet for more and more business operations and will want “the richest possible experience.” Wireless devices and other appliances will be highly complementary to the desktop computer, but will not replace it, Dell said.

To back up the change in focus to an Internet computing company, Dell highlighted some of the company’s initiatives. These include a new series of small-footprint servers, called PowerApp appliance servers. The new systems are the thinnest Dell has to offer and are specifically designed for packed data centres that are short on real estate. Coming in both Windows and Linux flavours, the PowerApp servers will be geared for specific tasks like Web-hosting and caching.

Dell also announced a number of partnerships with several outsourcers including Exodus, NaviSite and Corio. The company is also working with Arthur Andersen and Gen3 Partners in a program called “E”xpert Services, to help businesses develop e-business solutions.

According to Dell, a huge build-out of the Internet infrastructure is occurring, which will “fuel changes in how businesses operate and how people learn, buy goods, communicate with each other and are entertained,” he said. “The significant degree to which we have transitioned our own business to the Internet has given us the expertise that customers have asked us to share with them.”

Currently, 50 per cent of the company’s sales are of Web-enabled products, 70 per cent of its tech support is handled through on-line service tools, and 80 per cent of its suppliers are integrated through its value chain Web site, Dell said.