William A. Foster, IV
All is for the best in the best of possible worlds. — Voltaire
On Friday we watched the Apple (AAPL) insanity behind the IPad 3 consume the world. In New York it was reported a man flew from Brazil and waited 30 hours in line to buy his IPad 3 because they would not be released in Brazil for another 2 months. I would love for someone to name me the last time any sense of this type of excitement or euphoria surrounded a Dell (DELL) product or Research In Motion’s (RIMM) release of a Blackberry. I dare say waiting on that answer might require me to as the Snickers commercial says “Not going anywhere for awhile?”
There are so many issues for both of these companies that its honestly scary to even try and begin to name them. The people at Dell can’t possibly tell me that they have not observed how a company like Apple, once on the brink of collapse, has not only surpassed them but is now worth —- wait for it —- a market cap 18 times Dell and is now the world’s most valuable company at over half a trillion dollars. I can’t even remember the last time anyone told me they were considering buying a Dell. To say Michael Dell is no Steve Jobs is like saying Evander Holyfield is no Muhammad Ali. On the other side the Research In Motion leadership does not want to accept that its strategy and course of action simply isn’t working, flawed, misguided, and a number of other adjectives that all lead to the same place. Research In Motion made the fatal mistake believing it needed to get into the consumer/retail to compete with Apple and other smart phone makers instead of securing its place in the small business and enterprise (SBE) sector. It also failed to invest in a processor that provides a much faster interaction with the Blackberry device.
Both Dell and Research In Motion missed a great opportunity to create the cult and vertical integration in the small business and enterprise sector that Apple has created on the consumer side. A merger would really allow an exciting and global opportunity to vertically integrate the SBE sector onto the Research In Motion platform for its mobile device and Playbook tablet which could be transferred onto the Dell desktop and laptop systems. This in turn would allow Dell to get out of the consumer and retail business itself and have both companies focus on serving the SBE sector solely and be a leader in emerging markets like China, India, and Africa who are experiencing booms in business creation. Dell could break itself of the Windows platform and the new company could then focus its R&D on the Blackberry processor which greatly needs improvement and marketing in which it could sell itself as the most secure SBE hardware company on the planet based on the Blackberry platform which could be implemented into Dell’s hardware.
These two companies could create the SBE sector version of Apple. Fully integrated with customers who want the complete ecosystem of products within it and pander for release of the next product that makes their lives easier as business people. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that the leadership at either company would be creative enough to create exciting new business products anymore than I believe they’d have enough imagination to see why they need each other and are destined to become relics in their industries. They’ll continue to try and be jack of all trades companies attempting to appease both consumer and SBE customers and masters of neither.
Disclaimer: There is no ownership of Apple, Dell, or Research In Motion by myself, my business, or my family as of this article’s publishing.
Mr. Foster is the Interim Executive Director of HBCU Endowment Foundation, sits on the board of directors at the Center for HBCU Media Advocacy, & President of AK, Inc. A former banker & financial analyst who earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics & Finance from Virginia State University as well his master’s degree in Community Development & Urban Planning from Prairie View A&M University. Publishing research on the agriculture economics of food waste as well as writing articles for other African American media outlets.