Dell freaks out: first AMD, now Google desktop software and pilot stores
After years of boring Wintel beigedom, Dell is continuing its freak-out month. First the world's largest PC maker broke its long-time Intel exclusivity, with an AMD incursion through its Alienware purchase, plus a new line of servers. Now Google has stepped into the frame. The search giant has just announced a three-year deal that will see it pay to place its desktop search and web browser toolbar on tens of millions of Dell PCs.
Invading Dell's formerly Microsoft-only desktop turn is a way for Google to hit back at IE7, which makes MSN the default search engine (though again showing its aggressive ability to hit back, Google has tooled its own search engine to recognise IE 7 users, then throw up a pop-up that lets them make Google their default IE 7 search engine with a click).
In a third major shake-up, Dell has announced two pilot retail stores in the US, and will open more if they’re successful. The stores follow the stand-out success of similar retail experiments by Apple and Sony, but with a twist - you can only look at the Dell, merchandise. You still have to buy online (or by phone). Internet kiosks inside the stores help allow Dell to pretend it's not changing its direct model.
With the corporate market slow and mean, most pundits think most PC growth potential is in the home and small biz markets. These are punters who want to see something before they buy it, and Dell's direct approach has been hurting as it loses market share for the first time in years (mostly to HP). The pilot stores are designed to turn the tide.