Why Dell’s prediction was a work of fiction

Revenge, as every Star Trek (and Quentin Tarantino) fan knows, is a dish best served cold. In which case it must have been freezing earlier this month when Apple CEO Steve Jobs was able to send around an e-mail to all company employees informing them that Apple's stock market valuation had exceeded that of rival Dell’s.

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By  Peter Branton Published  January 22, 2006

|~|commentpulpbody.jpg|~|Apple gained revenge on Dell recently in the stock market - but obviously not in the Tarantino sense! |~|Revenge, as every Star Trek (and Quentin Tarantino) fan knows, is a dish best served cold. In which case it must have been freezing earlier this month when Apple CEO Steve Jobs was able to send around an e-mail to all company employees informing them that Apple's stock market valuation had exceeded that of rival Dell’s. True, the advantage was slight (and may very well have been eroded by the time this is published) but following Jobs’ keynote at MacWorld this month, Apple’s market capitalisation was just over US$72 billion. Dell’s market value at close of trading on Wall Street the same day was a shade under that mark. While Apple shares were trading at around US$85, Dell’s were closer to US$30. For Dell’s founder and chairman Michael Dell, that must have been somewhat galling, to put it mildly. In 1997, following Jobs’ high-profile return to the then-financially troubled Apple, Dell had been asked at a technology conference what he himself would do to restore Apple's fortunes. “I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders,” Dell said at the time. Jobs’ e-mail this month was brief and to the point: “Team, it turned out that Michael Dell wasn’t perfect at predicting the future. Based on today’s stock market close, Apple is worth more than Dell. Stocks go up and down, and things may be different tomorrow, but I thought it was worth a moment of reflection today. Steve.” Industry watchers were quick to point out this month that by the measure of market value (if not actual sales), Apple can now be considered the second largest personal computer company in the world, behind HP, which is worth more like US$90 billion. Dell can probably console himself with the thought that he is still far richer than rival Jobs, with his personal fortune being estimated at more than US$14 billion. He would also be entitled to point out that it is Apple's iPod music player sales, rather than its Mac sales that has driven its share price so high. The iPod is a hugely successful product, but one whose days could well be numbered. Another one of IT's famously outspoken CEOs — Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems — this month suggested that sales of such devices will fall as users look at other ways of accessing their music collections. However transitory Apple’s good fortune is, Dell is currently experiencing a harsher time from investors than it has been used to previously. Current CEO Kevin Rollins this month said the firm would be “open” to using chips from AMD rather than Intel for the first time. Any connection between these events, we wonder? ||**||

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