This story had been rumoured a lot in the last few weeks, and it finally happened: Micheal Dell is taking the company he founded private with the help of Microsoft.
So now Microsoft has its own world-class smartphone maker (Nokia), its own world-class computer maker (Dell) to complement its other existing hardware businesses (Xbox, accessories, Surface) – Ramin says this is a far cry from a unified hardware business and he’s right, but I retorted that in all this hodgepodge of disparate businesses the only entity making money (and lots of it) is good ol’ Microsoft software, which therefore should call the shots.
When I was discussing this deal, a number of questions arose:
Q: Is the industry abandoning its tested-and-true (sort of) open paradigm, in favor of a closed stack more similar to Apple’s?
A: Hard to say. I think Microsoft is still weighing the pros and cons of the two approaches: the risk of killing the hen who lays the golden eggs is very big, which may be the reason Redmond is sneaking into the driver seat of Nokia and Dell without however an overt buyout which could scare off other manufacturers.
Q: Will Michael Dell end up running Microsoft?
A: I think there is more than an hint in that direction: Dell is the kind of visionary industry figure Ballmer has ceased to be long ago. However I still maintain that a lot of Apple’ success is due to its superior software, and with all due respect for big Mike, I don’t think he gets software
Q: Is this good for the industry?
A: Absolutely yes, especially becase it will trigger a domino effect with the other big guys. What will Lenovo do? What will Samsung do? This industry does not perform well without the periodic mass extinctions and this looks has just like a meteor hurtling towards the planet.
Q: What will happen next?
A: for one thing, expect more vigorous competition. Full stacks will mean more integrated products, focused much more on the user experience and much less of the technicalitis of protocols, standards and the like. Apple does not have the answer to all questions and – besides – it’s an Apple without the genius of Steve, so a much more approachable one.