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It’s Dells day and a boost for consumer force May 25, 2007

Posted by John in Technology.
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Today computer-giant Dell served back to back news that gave potential buyers new choices of what to buy and were to buy their new computer. The interesting story, however, is what’s behind the development – social media and listening to the customer.

Here are the basics: Two new Dell desktop models are to be sold in up to 3 500 Wall-Mart and Sams Club locations beginning June 10. The bundled desktops will be sold for under $700. Wall-Mart earlier released its new intentions to expand its electronics areas and this offering is a step in that direction. Also – as of today – Dell started to sell three models with Ubuntu, the community developed Linux-based operating system, as an online only offering at dell.com. Hardware support comes from Dell but the buyers are to use the Linux section of the Dell community forum for software support.

Commentators like Josh Goldman at Crunchgear asks whats in the first deal, with Wall-Mart? He is writing that nothing is told about what kind of software will be included in the package. Larry Dignan, blogging at Between the lines, comments that “Most analysts expect Dell to follow up with more retail partners beyond Wal-Mart”. Brian Caulfield at Forbes.com digs deeper and says it is a risky move for Dell but the company has little choice: “The former growth machine is expected to report a 24.4% drop in net income for the quarter ending in April”, Caulfield writes adding that the Wal-Mart move is “somewhat a quick fix”.

So – what did move Dell to offer Linux-based models? In February Dell launched its Ideastorm website as a way to connect to the companys costumers and users. During the very first day a user named Dhart posted the suggestion that Dell should sell a computer with open source software such as Linux-based Ubuntu or likewise. Later, over 30 000 community members supported the idea and more than 100 000 completed a survey what they thought about having a pre-installed Linux-based software. Today’s news confirmed that Dell not only listened to its users wish but also listened to their opinions – and we all know the value of that.

However, other voices question the move. The Wired News staff are questioning the usability of the offering in a thorough way by making a list of the things you will be able to do and not do with the Ubuntu software compared to others (for example Windows). John Murrel at Good Morning Silicon Valley wrote early today that this offering might create a big buzz among geeks but little business in all.

At Hardware 2.0 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes “I must admit that I’m not that thrilled by the support package on offer. Seems to me that Dell is more interested in catering for existing Linux users that encouraging adoption of Linux to newbies.”

Just to make it clear – the Dell computers with Ubuntu software included is not to be sold at Wall-Mart or Sams club locations. That itself might be news…

By John Furrier and Anders Bjers

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