April 10, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

Dell exec: We're not Wintel's lapdog

BOSTON--To some, Dell marches to the beat of Intel and Microsoft drums, dutifully following their research and development plans. But to hear Kevin Kettler tell it, the PC maker often takes its own lead.

Not only is the company active in establishing technologies, but often it's the kingmaker for emerging standards, Dell's chief technology officer said. In an interview at LinuxWorld Conference and Expo here, Kettler outlined several areas where Dell has gone its own way--over objections from Intel and Microsoft--and has cut behind-the-scenes deals that brought new developments to market.

Essentially, Kettler argued, Dell was responsible for selecting, if not necessarily developing, many of the technologies in today's desktop computers and servers. Among standards for which he said Dell deserves credit are 802.11 wireless networking, PCI Express communications technology and 64-bit extensions to Intel's x86 line of processors.

Dell's assertiveness has led to friction at times between the company and its major allies, however. Just last Monday, Kettler spent eight hours in a meeting with Intel. It was productive, but it "wasn't pretty," he said.

In the past, Microsoft and Intel had more power, said Roger Kay, an analyst at Endpoint Technology Associates. There were few alternatives when PC companies wanted to buy chips or operating systems, and not many computer makers were dominant enough to set terms. But now, with major consolidation in the number of PC sellers as well, there are more power struggles, he said.

"Some very large players--Cisco in networking, Microsoft in operating systems, Intel in chips, Dell in PCs, Best Buy in distribution--they're all jockeying for a dominant position, bluffing, feinting," Kay said. And overall, Dell does indeed hold more power than the past. "It's a little braggadocio, but I think essentially the story holds," he added.

But overall, Dell tends to follow Intel's lead and isn't setting the agenda, said Gartner analyst Steve Kleynhans. "They tend to get involved at the point where technology is getting standardized, and they popularize it. They get it out to a lot of people," he said. "But I don't see them as being the driver of a technology or the one that sets the direction."

Dell's duels
In the case of wireless networking, Dell pushed back against Intel's fondness for the now-defunct HomeRF standard, Kettler said. It did so strongly enough to convince the company to switch its support to the 802.11 standard that is widely used today.

Intel saw HomeRF as inexpensive and good for the home. Dell, however, wanted a single technology for work and home, so customers wouldn't have to switch network adapters when they carried their laptops back and forth, Kettler said. Dell convinced Intel to go with 802.11 everywhere, but to price it at the same level as the cheap HomeRF alternative. It argued that Intel would make more money from selling a large number of 802.11 adapters with a slimmer profit margin than from selling smaller amounts of a more expensive adapter geared to work environments.

Kevin Kettler Kevin Kettler

It was, therefore, Dell's actions that dramatically reduced the cost of 802.11 networking gear, he argued.

Intel declined to comment on specific situations described this story. In general, though, it acknowledged both cooperation and some tension with Dell.

"We love Dell. They indeed play a critical role with innovation and standards as the world's largest seller of PCs, and they certainly keep us on our toes every day," the company said in a statement.

More tension arrived in the area of processors, especially when Intel was faced with a move to advanced chips with 64-bit abilities. Instead of endowing its x86 chips, such as Pentium and Xeon, with 64-bit features, Intel aggressively pushed its Itanium line. Dell, though, urged Intel to boost x86--the direction rival chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices took.

"Next time to you talk to Pat (Gelsinger, head of Intel's server group and its former CTO), ask him where the demand for 64-bit memory extensions (to x86 chips) came from," Kettler said.

CONTINUED: Memory tussles…
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No, you're Apple's lapdog
Or you soon will be. Apple is so much smaller, and yet commands
AND wields so much more power in the industry than Dell, it's a
joke this article was ever written.
Posted by CentrOS (126 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Pot calling the kettle black
It wasn't so long ago that Apple was on the fringe of falling apart while Dell was the driving force of the PC industry. I doubt you would have called articles about apple back then "a joke". You should be cautious with your remarks, Mac Boy. Apple does indeed show lots of promise... but so did Netscape before being buried by Internet Explorer... now being challenged by firefox.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Link Flag
Apple, the great innovator
A yes, Apple, the great innovator. Now let's see, the mouse, hmm I seem to remember seeing that original mouse made out of a block of wood. MADE BY XEROX! The GUI, hmm MADE BY XEROX! Wonderful innovations by Apple? And now for the present, motherboard, well it has a PCI bus with a slot for a standard (read IBM style) AGP video slot, standard (read IBM style) memory slots, IDE (read IBM style) hard drive, whoops, they forgot the floppy drive, REALLY INNOVATIVE ABOUT THAT! And then there's that wonderful OS X, funny they make no bones about the innovation of BSD Unix. I knida like it but it still has that funky interface that they think is so cool....... In case you wonder I started working on MAC's in 1991 and I still don't like them. But Apple is so innovative!
Ted McCarty
Posted by tmccarty8 (11 comments )
Link Flag
oh please dell
Oh please Dell, bestoy the unworthy with more of your wisdom.

You people at Dell really believing this junk that you say?
Posted by (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
if they're so great...
Why are they losing ground to HP in most divisions? Why haven't they offered AMD-powered gear?

Dell does no more for the industry than any leading company would. They get to set some direction because of their size. I'm sure that HP and IBM can give examples of how they'd "established" something in the industry.

Their blind loyalty to Intel continues to hurt the industry as a whole.
Posted by MattLPMP (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If dell could only; today lets say, offer the only quad-sli AMD FX-60 Liddo
Then we too, and even us. Could be blue.

Yellow; pale with a plastic shovel.
Posted by Pop4 (88 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dell responsible for 802.11?!!!
Those were orange and blue Dell iBooks that Steve Jobs walked around with when he introduced the first commercial and consumer application of the 802.11 wireless spec at MacWorld in NY? That was Michael Dell in the blue jeans and black turtleneck?

Dell was an earlier adopter in the PC world for 802.11, but Apple put Wi-Fi on the map with their Airport hub and cards. Apple didn't develop wi-fi, but it saw a good thing and put it on the market first.
Posted by mike.gw (942 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I know...
next they will say they established USB and Firewire as a standard..
Posted by Jesus#2 (127 comments )
Link Flag
Nonsense! Dell follows Intel BLINDLY!
Dell, did you not sell socket 423 P4 systems with RAMBUS? Yes, and you had problems with them. Why? When the PIII was proven a better processor architecture. I'll tell you why becuase what Intel says Dell says. Did you follow Intel's Itanium roadmap, YES! Only when you didn't get any customers for the Itanic did you withdraw.
While other's were going to DDR you stuck with PC133, why? Because Intel still wanted to prove that RAMBUS was a much better architecture. If you had any say about what Intel was delivering to you then what happened there?
You followed Intel all the way through the P4 lineage even after they hit the thermal "brick wall" of 4GHz and had to back off to 3.8 GHz. Where was your CTO then? Intel promised that the P4 would go to 5GHz which was almost required for the P4's long pipeline.

I won't comment on the MS side of the house because I actually thing that they do listen to you.

But let me put it this way, Dell may as well be named Intdell because you totally depend on Intel to tell you what to do. You design your systems off of Intel reference boards and you are Intel's lapdog (although I can think of a better term but can't post it here).

Fred Dunn
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dell recommends Windows XP
Dell recommends Windows XP
Posted by Blito (436 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Probably because that's ALL it will run!
Not counting write it yourself Linux, etc...
Posted by Byronic (95 comments )
Link Flag
Not so long ago...
I still remember when Dell included in their first servers Red Hat 7 as a standard OS. Suddenly they deleted it from their web site and put Windows as the ONLY option. Recently they put Red Hat as their LAST option (check Dell's website). And now you can tell me, is Dell "free" from Microsoft's fist ? I don't think so ...
Posted by (15 comments )
Link Flag
Page 2 of Dell playbok
Every 3 months were hear in one form or another that Dell is not obligated to use Just Intel/Microsoft etc. etc.

They paraphrase the same thing they have been saying over and over but not doing and it's still news.

They say these things I think becasue they are trynig to convince Wintel, but these days the pro AMD statements made from Dell must be a running joke around the Intel water coolers.

Boss: "You get those TPS reports?"
Dolt: "They are on your desk right next to the press release that Dell began shipping AMD desktops"
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Time to sell the company and return the money to the stockholders.
Do it now, and do everyone a favor.
Posted by Byronic (95 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There are other Dell offerings?
I wasn't aware that Dell was offering a Linux-based, AMD-powered desktop these days. And those dual-core Athlon 64's are just flying off Dell's virtual shelves.
As a large customer they were able to influence the Intel wireless standard and push them towards the 64 extensions. Good for them, it sounds like standard business practices to me, but it only seems to work one-way. Most successful businesses listen to their customer base and respond, Intel listened to Dell, but Dell isn't listening to the consumer. When they actually decide to broaden their horizons and offer something up outside of the Wintel playbook, then maybe they can claim to have a leadership role in technology. Until that time they are just a successful lapdog that occasionally nips at the master.
Posted by Titos 2 Cents (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dell not well know as tech inovator
Dell has never been known as a technology inovator. Dell was run on a business model that went similar to this: Spend little on R & D and let others create the technology. Purchase the components with that technology and integrate it into a PC and sell it online at a low cost.

Dell could undercut all the exisitng PC makers with this model, because they didn't do research and development or have to support brick and mortar storefronts. They were grabbing market share from everyone. Compaq and HP merged as a result of this threat. During the confusion of the merger, dell grabbed even more share of the market. Perhaps dell expanded too rapidly or the other makers now have their act together, as dell is now showing cracks in its armor.

A company of inovation? Hardly. They may have influenced others, but dell shouldn't be boasting about being responsible for inovation.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Reply Link Flag
dell vs apple
Last week I baught 6 dells, 0 apples.
Posted by gggg sssss (2285 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ay buang ka!
Napakatanga mo naman. Wala kang nalalaman sa daigdig ng mga
computers. Ang mundong ginagalawan mo ay para lamang sa mga
hunghang na tulad mo. Huwag ka sanang makahawa.
Posted by benjiernmd (123 comments )
Link Flag
Last quarter, the district I work in bought 2,000 Apple's and 500
Posted by GGGlen (491 comments )
Link Flag
Apple is usually first, not Dell
Apple had wifi long before Dell did. Same with standardizing USB in their systems. PCs still don't have firewire standard.

Apple was the first to get rid of floppies.

Apple was the first to have super drives where you could write DVD and CDs using the same drive.

Apple had the touch pads on laptops most use today.

And of course Apple had mice first :)

Dell is a follower. Maybe they push things out into the pc market, but it's usually well after the market has been there and doing things on their own for sometime. There is never any risk involved.
Posted by kxmmxk (320 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Missing the point
I think what all the "Apple was first" posts are missing is the fact that the article is not suggesting that Dell was first. Ever. The point the article is trying to make is that Dell has used it's market share to push in directions that both Intel and Microsoft were against. It had nothing to do with innovation.

Frankly, all these Apple love letters are about as out of place here as posting Linux kernel patch notes in a thread about a new version of Internet Explorer.
Posted by SCPRedMage (3 comments )
Link Flag
Suggestion on non-Dell laptop and warranty
I though this would be a good time to ask for a suggestion for a laptop supplier other than Dell. I would prefer to have a 64bit (read AMD) processor. The support from Dell has been so good, save when they temporarily moved their phone customer support to India. The 3 year repair policy is unbeatable and I'm most fearful of loosing this service. I've gone through 2 laptops in 4 years (with 2 years of warranty left on the second) and have had to ship both of laptops back, the first 4 or 5 times. The longest turnaround time has been 5 days. Multiple times I've gotten the laptop back 2 days after shipping it. I know some other laptop suppliers offer similar warranties, but Im not sure if they are as good as Dells (Dell has done well on the support). I definitely dont want the Best Buy or CompUSA one strike and its gone rip-off warranty. Any suggestions or personal experiences are greatly appreciated!
Posted by csmark (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Get an Alienware!!!
Enough said.
Posted by Hitokiri Batusai (15 comments )
Link Flag
Dell's Response to Apple Running Windows
I believe this PR-campaign from Dell is due to increased pressure that Dell now feels from Apple. Dell has always been known as a computer builder. They take off-the-shelf components, put them together, and sell mass quantities. There was little competition from computer 'assemblers' aside from Alienware, which they purchased.

Now, with Apple able to compete directly with Dell... Dell has to be more than a computer assembler. Now, they've magically crowned themselves kings of innovation, thanks to Dell's P.R. department and c|Net's lack of journalistic instinct.

Most people know Apple is an innovator. But Dell is no more innovator than is your local police department an innovator for choosing a Dodge Charger instead of the Ford Crown Vic or Chevy Caprice. For all we know, Dell has *hurt* innovation by using their market share to force suppliers to toe Dell's line.

Now, with Apple as a competitor, we'll likely see some real innovation from the Wintel side of the fence.
Posted by ThreadSurfer (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"is due to increased pressure that Dell now feels from Apple."

NOW THAT was funny. Oh look here comes Apple with their way over priced, running XP, un-supported Intel box with different plastic....look out they are going to move from 4% to 4.5% market share!!!!!!!!!!!

Wake up please.
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
Link Flag
Apple has it chance when they used IBM Processor's
But now that IBM closed it's Processor's Manufacturer Facility, Apple will have to use the same INTEL crap, than everybody else. Even IBM will do so, they even tough of using AMD chips instead come on...
Posted by Hitokiri Batusai (15 comments )
Link Flag
Dell is the antithesis of innovation
Other than innovating the sales process, Dell is probably one of the biggest obstacles to innovation in the computer industry. Their biggest contribution (and not to belittle it, it is important) is to provide downward pressure on prices. But introducing new technology? That's like the president claiming to improve the environment. They are followers, not leaders. They wait for markets to mature, and then they invade.

They should be happy with their role in the industry, and shouldn't feel the need to make stuff up.
Posted by kgofsb (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I would agree Dell is the antithesis of innovation
Dell contribution is to supply chain management and efficiently
cutting costs of their products. Sometimes to an absurd level
(i.e. the option to add or remove the mouse pad). I don't
remember Dell being involved with creating any new
technologies. They slap together off the shelf components from
several suppliers into a box and slap the Dell logo on it. What
has changed since the time Michael Dell was assembling
computer parts from his dorm room to this day is economies of
scale. Better inventory and supply chain management and
improvements in cutting the cost of manufacturing down. Dell
was probably one of first batch of large companies to off shore
their tech support and move their production from the US to
China. Calling Dell a technology innovator is a joke. Individually
IBM, HP, Apple, SGI, Sun innovate far more technology than Dell
ever has. Dell is the biggest assembler of computer components
and parts like Gateway, Acer, Packard Bell and is so far doing a
better job of assembling computers than their competition. I'll
give Dell credit for that, but definately not for innovative
technology. This article should be put under the humor column
of C|Net
Posted by digantasaha (21 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dell innovates; as long as it starts with Windows/Intel
Is this story a late April Fool's joke?
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
April Fool's!
It's....just....got to be a late April Fool's joke. I can't make this story out to be anything else.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
nothing new
The only thing dell is inovative at is sticking it to their customers and the exec's on how to in- crease their pay. Lousy service may pay for awhile but after awhile it will come back to the bottom line (of course only the poor working stiffs will feel the pain)
Posted by (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If Dell listens to its customers so much, where's the Athlon line?
I don't know when CNet decided to post Dell sales pitches, but this one is pretty blatant. Where is the hard questioning? If Dell is so busy listening to its customers, (as expressed with the BluRay comments), then why haven't they put out even one system with an AMD processor? Why use Intel for 64 bit, when AMD came up with it first, and does it better? Why use Intel for dual core, when AMD's chips are more powerful? Sounds like lapdog barking to me.
Posted by erindorn (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The sound of lapdog barking
If Dell is so busy listening to its customers, (as expressed with the BluRay comments), then why haven't they put out even one system with an AMD processor? Why use Intel for 64 bit, when AMD came up with it first, and does it better? Why use Intel for dual core, when AMD's chips are more powerful? Sounds like lapdog barking to me.
Posted by erindorn (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Where is Dell's Opteron Line ?
IF Dell isn't on the Intel Treadmill, Why do they refuse to use AMD processors ? Dell is a lot of talk and hype. I encourage people not to get caught up in how fast the processor is clocked. At the Same frequenct AMD leaves Intel in the dust. Sort of like a fat girl driving a Ford Pinto compared to a Dodge Viper. Oh Well. LOL.
Posted by haul328 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
DELL is a screw driver company period
90% of their revenue is generated from the utilization of screw drivers. They sell Lexmark Printers, EMC Storage, Intel PCes, taiwanese PDAs and MP3 players...

They are inventing s**t.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://sharikou.blogspot.com/" target="_newWindow">http://sharikou.blogspot.com/</a>
Posted by sharikou (106 comments )
Reply Link Flag
May I say more?

How many of you remember the 5150? I remember I gave my uncle advise on new CPU's. He was more OSX knowlewdgeble than windows he was then using my dual usb ibook, to make a long story short withing one year he had to get it fixed 4 different times one week after the one year warranty the motherboard burned out of course Dell would not replace it although it was a wide known problem He spend 500.00 for parts and labor PLUS the 1200 he spend on the 5150 that is a macbook pro. Lets just say he learned his lesson. FYI he now just bought a macbook pro
Posted by Joe A Flores (18 comments )
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