Is it time for Dell to file for Divorce?
I founded VoodooPC in 1991, and in 1999 I stepped down as CEO so I could pursue my passion of designing new products. I have been the CTO of Voodoo ever since, and as such I get to play with new technology all the time. If you go to our website you’ll see that we normally don’t engage in “logo branding” our partner companies. We normally try to stay on the fence when it comes to choosing technology – but when there is a serious performance difference, we will come out and say it. I’m not one to pull punches nor am I easily influenced. I believe in remaining completely unbiased and telling it like it is – thus the reason we’ve hosted virtually un-moderated forums on our website for years.
In the marriage between Intel and Dell I always wondered who wears the pants in the family. For years I thought it was Dell, but now I’m not so sure. Dell is an operationally excellent company, and they know exactly how to trim costs and gain market share. Their business is an exact science, and due to the volumes Dell sells, Intel most likely offers generous MDF to keep them profitable so they can continue to grow their business.
Dell is dull, and when companies like Apple, Alienware, and VoodooPC employ strategies that influence early adopters, a company like Dell must realize that there could be consequences down the road. Being “cool” may not seem important now, but in order to influence future industry leaders buying decisions Dell must have buy in from early adopters.
Merely getting a guy to act cool and use words like “Dude” doesn’t make for an influential company. Heck, hiring Sheryl Crow as their spokesperson doesn’t change things for me, I’m guessing it’s the same for anyone else.
Dell also has the unique problem of being too big – they still have to please investors, and therefore they must continue to grow their market share past seemingly unreachable levels.
Dell can’t win true enthusiasts over if they stay married to one company either. When I say enthusiasts, I’m referring to the people who share similar interests to me. These are people who grew up playing video games, graduating from an Atari 2600 all the way to an X-BOX. They’ve owned multiple PCs in their lifetime, from Apple //Cs to Commodore 64s, Amiga 500s, etc. These people influence the decisions of others when it comes to purchasing technology. These people love gaming or simply love technology and what it can do for you.
Around two years ago, Dell entered the gaming market in order to gain back some early adopters. In the meantime, many thought that our business would be over. They figured that Dell would eventually commoditize this market like they have in every other market they’ve entered, and companies like Voodoo would end up moving into another direction. Thankfully, this hasn’t happened. Dell legitimized our space, and created mainstream awareness around PC gaming. By using their incredible marketing muscle, many people who normally would never have heard of Voodoo or Alienware have done their research and made their decisions accordingly. I would say overall we welcome the competition, and as long as we continue to stay ahead of the curve, we will remain a leader in our space.
Dell has successfully entered the market, no question, but as long as they continue to use Intel exclusively, they’ll never win the hearts and minds of serious gamers or enthusiasts. Nvidia certainly helped them by making the nForce4 chipsets compatible with Intel. It was probably the single best thing that’s happened to Intel in the last year because without SLI technology they didn’t stand a chance. Even with SLI, it’s clear that the AMD FX is the mack-daddy of all CPUs. The FX pimp slaps any of the “Extreme” alternatives in so many ways – its cooler, uses less power, therefore quieter, and faster.
Yep… Intel made a serious U-Turn from being a successful, innovative CPU manufacturer to a company that seems to have lost their way in their own big-ass organization. They should have dumped their desktop parts years ago the first time guys like me told them that their Pentium M was a better solution. Instead, they continued to make hotter and louder CPU solutions for the desktop while developing the Pentium M only for notebook. They tried to force everyone to change to BTX, the biggest waste of time form factor ever. They caused a huge stir in the cooling market, forcing people to design new cooling solutions overnight. It was very confusing and frustrating.
Thankfully, while all of this was happening, AMD was concentrating on improving their already impressive product line. AMD has been building low and mid voltage CPUS in all areas, including their Athlon 64, and Opteron 64 CPUs. They recently launched the Turion 64 processor, a chip that by itself performs admirably. In the near future, when the Turion 64 is coupled with newer chipsets, the competition had better wear some rubber gimp suits and prepare for the whipping of a lifetime. The Turion 64 has a very impressive future ahead of it; it’s poised to deliver blistering performance in all areas, including gaming, battery life, business apps, etc. We already launched two notebooks AND a desktop media center based on Turion 64, and they’re all extremely impressive.
I’m not sure if anyone realizes how serious this is for the industry. Perhaps it’s time for a divorce. Either way, I’m just going to sit back on the sidelines and continue to design the ultimate products for VoodooPC. If anyone has any ideas, drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you.
President & CTO