Dude, Dell's Turning it Around

Dell this week unveiled a line of colorful new consumer-oriented notebooks. Why is this news? For the past year, the PC giant has been pummeled by customer service disaster stories, quality control problems, lengthening PC build times, and an assortment of financial and market share issues. Once the largest PC company on earth, Dell has fallen to number two behind rival HP, and it has dramatically altered its strategy and even begun selling some PCs through retail outlets. A few months ago, Dell ousted its CEO and returned founder Michael Dell to the top decision-making role in the company.

What Mr. Dell has done so far may seem somewhat obvious, but it's working: The company has simply established a customer feedback site, asked its customers what they'd like to see changed at the company, and then implemented the most popular of those changes, one after the other. The colorful new laptops are just the latest in a long list of examples of Dell delivering what its customers have requested. And while most companies can claim to be customer-centric, Dell's moves in recent months are transparent and obvious in their zeal to meet customer needs.

The colorful new laptops are part of Dell's consumer-oriented line of Inspiron products, which typically make up only 15 percent of the company's sales. The goal here, obviously, is to increase that number, and when you combine these brightly hued machines with Dell's recent move into the feel-it-touch-it world of retail, you can see exactly where this is heading. The new Inspiron 1420 notebook comes in 3 sizes and 8 colors, including some bolder and stylish choices like hot pink and espresso brown. They should appeal to a growing audience of customers who value personal style as much as technology.

Dell's been making other changes lately, too. The company rated second in a Greenpeace quarterly report on environmentally-friendly electronics companies, tied with Lenovo but behind first-place recipient Nokia. And the company is expanding its offering of Linux-based PCs by preloading Ubuntu Linux 7.04 on an additional notebook model.

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