At a sponsored dinner on Tuesday night, Dell Founder and CEO, Michael Dell, told of his dislike for netbooks and admitted that the "biggest mistake" of his career was not diversifying the company sooner.
When asked about the growing netbook market, Dell said that "a fair amount of customers" were unsatisfied with the poor performance parts and the smaller screen size when compared to traditional laptop computers.
"Take a user who's used to a 15 inch notebook and then give him a 10 inch netbook. He'll say 'Oh, this is so cool, it's so lightweight'. Then 36 hours later he'll say the screen's not big enough, give me my 15 inch back".
This reportedly got the room talking, given that Dell itself offers a range of netbook computers for sale.
When asked by a diner what his biggest mistake as an executive was, Dell said it was retaining the existing strategy of direct sales for too long and not diversifying the business sooner. "We probably should have - or could have - intervened a bit earlier and said 'we should hit the reset button here and try some new things to anticipate this challenge coming up'", he said.
The challenge Dell is talking about is the expansion of its competitors like IBM and HP into a broader market of hardware, IT services and "solutions".
Last month, Dell agreed to purchase computer services company Perot Systems for $US3.9 billion in an effort to better compete with IBM and HP. However, Dell was clear in his intentions not to emulate the rival companies business model. "We want to do it different to the other guys", he said, by offering more remotely managed services to consumers.
On a positive note, Dell took the opportunity during his speech to express his enthusiasm towards Microsoft's new operating system, Windows 7. "If you get the latest processor technology and you get Windows 7 and Office 2010, you will love your PC again...it's a dramatic improvement", Dell told the audience.
Dell predicted that the combination of Windows 7 with new chips from Intel will lead to a "very powerful refresh cycle" in the near future.