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By Eric Lundquist  |  Posted 2004-04-19 Print this article Print

One of Dells great strengths is it can gather information directly from its customers as well as sell to them directly. Once in a while, the company needs to roll out some of that information to the technology public.

Spending some time explaining exactly where open source fits into the future technology road map would be useful to those users planning technology purchases over the next five years.

The company still gets rankled when accused of not being innovative. I think that is understandable, as you could make a decent argument that the direct-purchase model is the greatest technology innovation to come down the road in the past five years. However, I think the company would be well-advised to take a page from the automobile industry—in this case, from Toyota.

Toyotas development of hybrid cars took place during a time when the prevailing wisdom was for continued development of gasoline engines or for making a great leap to some new fuel. Toyota has shown there is a way for technologies to transition without giving up performance.

Somewhere between the current hardware model and the new world of Web services lies a transitional technology model. Dell should be in the forefront of helping its customers understand where that transition resides. Dell has become a huge company with ambitions that now include storage, services and printers. There is little reason to expect that those ambitions will not be achieved, at least in part. The company is also a worldwide enterprise with more of its work force residing outside, rather than inside, the United States.

In addition to price, delivery and service, customers are looking for direction. Providing that direction would be a strong service Dell could offer its users.

Editor in Chief Eric Lundquist can be contacted at

Check out eWEEKs Desktop & Notebook Center at for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.

Since 1996, Eric Lundquist has been Editor in Chief of eWEEK, which includes domestic, international and online editions. As eWEEK's EIC, Lundquist oversees a staff of nearly 40 editors, reporters and Labs analysts covering product, services and companies in the high-technology community. He is a frequent speaker at industry gatherings and user events and sits on numerous advisory boards. Eric writes the popular weekly column, 'Up Front,' and he is a confidant of eWEEK's Spencer F. Katt gossip columnist.

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