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Dell pushes Linux in Comdex keynote; Dell's mum leads assault on palmtops

Nov 14, 2000, 14:53 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ian Lynch)

By Ian Lynch, VNU Net

This was Michael Dell's keynote speech, but on Monday afternoon it was his mother who stole the show, leading the counter offensive against those pesky palmtops everyone else wanted to praise at Comdex.

Momma Dell starred in an entertaining video of customer interviews, the purpose of which appeared to be to stress the reality of selling technology to the public by giving them what they want.

What did they want? Wireless laptops running non-proprietary software, not handhelds, palmtops or pocket PCs as their main computer.

Meanwhile, Momma Dell's most famous son informed his audience that Dell now builds $50m worth of computers direct to order through his company's website every day, and that this accounts for half the firm's revenues.

By the end of next year, he said, he wants 80 per cent of the firm's business to be generated through Dell.com.

Like mother, like son, Michael also downplayed devices smaller, lighter and more portable than a 1.3kg notebook. He was, however, keen on wireless technology and promised that all new laptops from Dell would be wireless compatible.

He argued that the device of choice for mobile computing would be wireless-access laptops, not palmtops, PocketPCs, mobile phones, 'tablets' or any other smaller device that might prove a bitter pill for his company to swallow.

While Dell acknowledged that handhelds would become more popular, he dismissed Microsoft's Tablet as this year's fad, and said personal digital assistants generally will only ever complement laptop and desktop PCs.

They will, however, require more servers. "The internet is driving the area we're most excited about right now - servers and storage," he said.

Indeed, Dell predicted that within five years, there will be 20 times the number of servers in operation in the world as there are now. He also praised the potential of Linux, emphasised Dell's support for it, and warned that pressure would mount on proprietary software as Linux continued to gain momentum.

Concluding, he called upon web-based business operations to improve how they protect customer privacy. According to Dell, 90 per cent of its customers still believe that concerns over online privacy are holding back the development of the internet.

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