Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Dell, Inc. is a computer-hardware manufacturer based in Round Rock, Texas. The marketplace perhaps associates Dell Computer most with the personal computers it designs, manufactures and sells for home and office use, but Dell also operates in the enterprise computing market with servers, data storage devices, network switches and computer cluster lines. Personal digital assistants, software and peripherals (including printers) round out Dell's product offerings.
Michael Dell founded the company (under the name "PC's Limited") while a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin in 1984. The company became successful, so Dell dropped out of university at the age of nineteen to run the business full-time.
In 1987, the company became Dell Computer Corporation.
In 1992, Fortune 500 included Dell in its list of the worlds largest companies.
In 1999 Dell overtook Compaq to become the largest seller of personal computers in the United States. In 2002 Dell lost the lead to Hewlett-Packard, which acquired Compaq in 2002. In 2003 Dell again regained the lead.
To recognize the company's expansion beyond computers, the stockholders approved changing the company name to "Dell, Inc." at the annual company meeting in 2003.
The Dell direct business model, which eliminates the middleman, has a reputation for its speed of sale-to-delivery of the company's products. Dell builds computers to order and this keeps its inventory costs low. Customers pay for product items before Dell builds those items: this gives Dell a negative cash conversion cycle.
Dell has rolled out its direct sales model in all the major international markets, and has achieved rapid growth in market share in most of them. In 2004, the share of sales coming from international markets increased, as confirmed in the company's press releases for the first two quarters of its Fiscal 2005 year.
Dell International Services functions as a support division of Dell.
In 2004, Kevin B. Rollins became Dell's chief executive officer. On December 22, 2004, the company announced that it would build a new assembly plant near Winston-Salem, North Carolina; the city and county provided Dell with $37.2 million in incentive packages; the state provided approximately $250 million in incentives and tax breaks. 
Consumer groups have also criticized Dell Inc. for treating consumers unfairly. For example, they have accused its customer service of helping businesses faster than individual customers. Criticisms of customer service target Dell Inc.'s outsourcing, specifically to India, resulting in communication problems with customers. Dell Inc. has also had numerous criticism from the Internet community for not offering AMD-based systems, having faulty hardware (most common complaints relate to hard-drive failures, with repeated occurences even after sending the computer/hard drive in for repair), failing to facilitate upgrading hardware (almost all non-Dell-certified/branded hardware), and the generic monopoly complaints from the internet/Build Your Own communities. Dell also uses proprietary parts, resulting in certain components like the power-supply and motherboard not fitting or not working at all, and sometimes frying the system if users install different, non- proprietary parts. Dell quality can also suffer due to those (sometimes inferior) parts, as well as the assembly line lacks that. Workers have less than 5 seconds generally to insert a PCI card in the slot, and screw it in.
Products and services
Dell markets its products under many brand names, such as:
- OptiPlex - office desktop systems
- Dimension - consumer desktop systems
- Latitude - commercially-focussed laptops
- Inspiron - consumer laptops
- Precision - high-perfomance office desktop systems and laptops
- PowerEdge - larger corporate servers
- PowerVault - storage-oriented hardware: tape arrays and disk arrays
- XPS - gaming gear
- Axim - Pocket PCs
The corporation markets certain brand names to different consumer segments. It typically sells the OptiPlex, Latitude, and Precision names to mid and large business customers, where the company's advertising emphasizes long life-cycle, reliability and serviceability. The Dimension, Inspiron, and XPS brands have an orientation towards consumers, students, and small home office environments, emphasizing value, performance and expandability.
Software and operating systems
Dell currently ships Windows XP as the operating system for most of its new computers, but it also offers Red Hat and SUSE for servers. Certain computers get sold "bare-bones" with a FreeDOS disk included in the box. On Dell's Windows machines, the manufacturer bundles a large amount of software. Some have accused Dell of shipping spyware and claim that its technical support team have instructions not to support its de-installation.
Non computer products
Dell offers a telephone-based support system. Customers encountering problems after the shipping of a system can call Dell Support and receive troubleshooting help over the phone. Dell prides itself on its international nature, and has technical representatives from all over the world, from countries such as Pakistan, India, Panama and the Philippines.
Dell incorporated as a Texas corporation in 1984 with a capitalization of US$ 1000, the minimum allowed by Texas law. Dell stock trades on the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York under the symbol DELL. At 31 December 2004, the company had a market capitalisation of $104.69 billion.
In its fiscal year ended 28 January 2005, Dell made a net profit of $3.32 billion on revenue of $49.2 billion. These figures represent 26% and 19% growth over the prior fiscal year, respectively.
Dell sells all its products, both to the consumer and to corporate customers, using a direct sales model. Dell neither operates retail stores nor sells products through other retailers or resellers. Dell Inc. does, however, showcase its consumer-oriented products at kiosks in major malls. The sales staff at the kiosk may assist customers in ordering a product for shipment to their home.
Dell advertises heavily on television, on the Internet, in magazines and in newspapers, using constant "special offers" to encourage sales.
A popular, widely parodied television and print ad campaign in the USA in the early 2000s featured young actor Ben Curtis playing the part of "Steven" - a cocky, and lightly mischievous blond-haired kid, who comes to the assistance of bereft computer purchasers. Each television advertisement usually ended with Steven's telltale phrase: "Dude, you're gettin' a DELL!"
During the past few years, the Dell commercials have featured three "Dell interns" who learn about the company and show off Dell products, services and employees.
- Dell Computer
- IMNO Interviews Kevin Rollins, CEO of Dell
- Dell Business Process Improvement- Information on the use of Six Sigma in Dell's BPI Program
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