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Where Now For Dell?

Backed by a whole heap of Microsoft money, Michael Dell has taken his company back into private ownership. The irony, given his famous advice to Steve Jobs, hangs deliciously in the air everytime the move is reported.

Dell failed to catch the smartphone or tablet wave, despite delivering at least two potentially winning devices. I say delivering, but perhaps falling to deliver is a better way of putting it.

The Streak - a 5" phablet - pre dated the Galaxy Note by years, but a lengthy gap between announcement and availability, poor pricing choices at launch and an apparent lack of desire to promote it meant that it say unloved on the shelves. In a similar vein, the keyboard toting Venue Pro was an absolute dead on winner in the initial batch of Windows Phone 7 devices. By the time that anybody got their hands on one the moment had passed, the phone was EOL'd almost before it arrived.

With tablets Dell has fared little better. The Steak 7 had everything in its favor - it was the right size, it was powerful and well priced. So Dell decided to sell it with the worst screen to grace a mobile device since the HP Jornada 528... No surprise it was so unpopular. Rather than add a true iPad competitor to its line up, Dell came up with the very strange Inspiron Duo, a laptop/tablet hybrid that was awful in either mode.

In both markets Dell just seemed to give up.

It's no surprise then that as the part of the market which is booming has proved beyond Dell's wit and their bread and butter PC sales are shrinking; the value of the company has dropped so far that taking it private was an achievable action.

The question is, does Michael Dell have a plan to keep it alive? Or are we going to see the company stumble through the same sorts of missteps that have plagued its main competitor HP?

Either way I'm sure if he were here today the next Steve Jobs keynote would have been heavy with barbs for the man who prematurely wrote Apple off...

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