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Dell: Now Private, What Next?

Posted on Friday, Nov 22nd 2013

According to the latest worldwide PC shipment report, during the past quarter, PC shipments continued to decline. Globally PC shipment fell 8.6% to 80.28 million units. Lenovo remained the market leader with a 17.6% market share, and Dell came in a distant third with a 11.6% market share. Dell’s quarterly shipment of 9.31 million PCs was 1% higher than previous year’s shipment of 9.22 million. Dell’s market share has also improved from 10.5% a year ago to 11.6% during the recently ended quarter. Within the U.S. Dell maintained its position as the second largest PC vendor, with shipment of 3.34 million PCs growing 3.3% over the year to account for 21% of the U.S. market.

Dell’s Ownership Change
But despite the minor improvement during the quarter, Dell finally succeeded in winning the legal battle with investors Carl Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management to de-list itself from the Nasdaq. After 25 years on the exchange, Dell is no longer a publicly traded company. In October of this year, Dell’s stock was de-listed from the Nasdaq, and all shareholders were paid $13.75 in cash and a $0.13 dividend per share. The $25 billion buyout by Silver Lake Partners and founder and CEO Michael Dell is expected to help Dell strengthen its market position. Since Dell went private, it has stopped disclosing its quarterly financial performance.

Dell’s Growth Plan

Dell is focusing on three key areas to resume growth. These include establishing a strong presence in emerging markets and reemphasizing the enterprise segment presence, along with emphasis on cloud technology and mobile computing devices. As part of its emerging market focus, Dell plans to increase sales force presence and continue to scout for acquisitions to help it grow. For instance, in China, Dell plans to open 2,000 new retail outlets across 600 Chinese cities to address the market, which is currently dominated by Lenovo. Dell hopes to leverage PCs to sell customers additional hardware, including servers, data-center storage, and networking gear.

Dell believes that without the Street’s scrutiny, it will be able to transform itself from a PC-centric company to an enterprise hardware and software focused one. It plans to stay away from entering the mobile phone market but will establish a bigger presence in the cloud client computing. Dell identifies one of the key technology trends as organizations deploying their own private cloud systems. The private cloud infrastructure involves investment in servers, infrastructure, and storage capabilities that Dell aspires to provide. Last month, it launched four products to help organizations address cloud, network security, and compliance while enabling employees to BYOD (bring your own device). Dell’s Connected Security portfolio includes One Identity Cloud Access Manager, SonicWALL NSA 2600 next generation firewall, ChangeAuditor 6.0, and InTrust 10.7 to provide added levels of protection, and enable organizations to gather, analyze, report, and address security threats.

To counter the declining PC market, Dell plans to improve its presence in the tablet device market. As part of this move, it recently released several new tablets. Last month, it released the Windows 8.1-powered Venue 8 Pro and Venue 11 Pro tablets. Venue 8 Pro is an 8-inch tablet with a 1,280 x 800 display that supports pen input and features Intel’s new quad-core Bay Trail chip, a 10-hour battery life, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of on-board storage. Venue 11 Pro is an 10.8-inch ultrabook which features a full HD (1,920 x 1,080) display, Intel’s Atom quad-core Bay Trail processors or a fourth-generation Haswell processor up to Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB of storage, WiDi and NFC. And Dell hasn’t stopped at Windows. It also announced the launch of Android 4.2.2–based Venue 7 and Venue 8, both of which feature a 1,280 x 800 IPS screen and a 2GHz dual-core Intel Z2580 processor. The tablets are highly affordable at $150 for the 7-inch model and $180 for the 8-inch one.

Dell’s current management is convinced that with the company’s being private, it will be able to focus on long-term growth instead of on the quarterly performances that help drive a listed company’s worth. Like many other tech giants, Dell began life in a dorm room. Mr. Dell believes that in the next 10 to 20 years, he can put Dell back on the tech map.

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