Dells Return as CEO Mirrors that of Apples Jobs

By Scot Petersen  |  Posted 2007-02-05

You had to see this one coming. I had a feeling when I wrote on Sept. 18 that "Dell 2.0," a plan to get the computer maker back on track with a renewed focus on the customer, was a desperate attempt by then-CEO Kevin Rollins to reverse the downward trends in Dells finances and customer satisfaction. And, with company founder Michael Dell looking over Rollins shoulder and giving him the dreaded vote of confidence, it seemed Rollins days were numbered.

The parallels between Michael Dells return to the CEO role, announced Jan. 31, and that of Apples Steve Jobs 10 years ago are illuminating. Both could not fully let go of control of the companies they built. Jobs, of course, was forced out, while Dell had planned to move Rollins into the CEO spot. But in the two-plus years with Rollins at the helm, Dell lost market share to Hewlett-Packard and waited too long to embrace Advanced Micro Processors chips.

Like Jobs, Dell (the person) will seek to innovate on the product side rather than continue to try to perfect the supply chain and manufacturing processes that drove Dell (the company) to the top.

At International CES in early January, it was Dell (the person), rather than Rollins, who was out front keynoting and promoting the new Dell systems designed for Microsofts Windows Vista. His enthusiasm showed, a far cry from the coolly efficient Rollins. Jobs reinvigorated Apple after his return. If Dell can do the same for his company, it will be quite a turnaround, indeed.

With Vista now shipping, the new operating system is bound to be a hot topic at the RSA Conference Feb. 5-9. Im sure there are bets on whether the first security exploit for Vista can be released before the end of the show.

Perhaps a bigger story will be the brewing ill will between Microsoft and Symantec. Now that Microsoft has built so many security technologies into Windows (a good thing, certainly) and has anti-virus and anti-spyware products of its own, Symantec is trying to find new ways to grow revenue, Senior Writer Matt Hines reports on Page 16. ´

Contact eWEEK Editor Scot Petersen at

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