The Undead PC: Dell has the best PC sales in their history


[Disclosure: All of the vendors mentioned are clients of the author.]

I’m at Dell Technology Summit this week, and one of the interesting stats from Sam Bird, the impressive executive that heads Dell Technology’s personal systems unit, is that they’ve had the strongest sales year ever. Dell is only Number 3 in volume, but they are Number 1 with a bullet in revenue and profit.

This showcases that for companies that execute – including spending money on R&D and marketing – the PC business is as strong, or, in the case of Dell Technologies, stronger than it’s ever been.

Let’s face it: The PC’s old days kind of sucked

I started as the lead analyst in operating systems for Dataquest back in 1994 and rose with the launch of Windows 95. Back then, people didn’t build their own PCs, and I was one of the first to take a motherboard, processor, hard drive and memory and build what I wanted. Laptop performance was a bad joke, battery life was measured in minutes and a lightweight laptop weighed around 6 lbs. That first PC I built never was stable, took me around two months (part-time) to configure, and the motherboard was held in the case with tape and rubber furniture feet because the mounting holes in the motherboard didn’t match the holes in the case.

One of my almost career-ending experiences resulted from being loaned our CEO’s laptop (an HP) and discovering that attempting to load the Windows 95 beta on it bricked the offering so badly IT couldn’t recover it. (Granted, no one had told me until after the fact it was the CEO’s laptop, but still.) If you tried to run more than one application at the same time you were risking a crash, and you’d see a significant drop in performance (multi-core and multi-threaded application support was a concept, not a reality).

There was no wireless capability back then, and the available networking technology, to be kind, sucked…particularly if you had to connect from home. Configuring drivers was like playing Russian Roulette: sometimes they worked, but way too often they’d cause the system to crash, and you’d have to go into Safe mode to try get the system working again.

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