Eli Hoffman summarizes this weekend's Barron's interview with Michael Dell and Keven Rollins. He lists a number of fascinating quotes, but this interchange in the interview was particularly remarkable:
Unlike Apple PCs, which really look different and sleek, nearly all desktop PCs running Microsoft Windows, including Dell's, look like boring boxes. Why not put some effort into design?
Dell: I don't think you can say we haven't put any effort into it. That's just totally wrong. We are putting effort in here and we have won design awards. Our new XPS M2010 laptop is a case to point, with a swiveling screen and detachable keyboard.
Your R&D people have shown me a slew of possible desktop PC concepts, including some shoebox-size units that could sit under a monitor. Will these come to be?
Rollins: We are working on them, and they might or might not happen. The point you must remember is that 80% of our business is corporate, and corporations don't buy on design.
That neatly sums up why Apple Computer (NASDAQ:AAPL) has trounced Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) on design, why Dell can't make an attractive MP3 player to save its life, and why Dell will never reach Apple's "Wow!" factor. "The point you must remember is that 80% of our business is corporate, and corporations don't buy on design."
And this raises an interesting question about another stock: Is the same true for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)?
Update: This video (sent by a reader) highlights the contrast between Microsoft's and Apple's approach to marketing and design. Warning: it's funny.