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."