“It’s fitting that 2005 should be the year Dell is named America’s Most Admired Company. The computer maker turns 21 years old in May, and as it attains the age of majority, it has grown from an industry curio into one of the nation’s most prominent and respected corporations,” Andy Serwer writes for Fortune.

“But Michael Dell has been playing the role of youthful renegade for a long time now, and he’s clearly a little uncomfortable when I break the news in his offices in Round Rock, Texas, that his company is at the top of FORTUNE’s list. He thinks about it for a second and then flashes his ‘I can eat nails’ grin. ‘I know my mom would be proud, but I certainly don’t feel like we’re the most admired company,’ he says,” Serwer writes. “Just to give you an idea of how far Dell has come: 21 years ago (when the company was founded) IBM and HP were voted No. 1 and No. 3 respectively on America’s Most Admired Companies list. (At that point if you had asked the voters, “What’s a Dell?” they probably would have told you it was a small, secluded, wooded valley.) As for PC market share, of course, Dell wasn’t on the radar screen, while Commodore, with about $1.1 billion in PC sales, was the industry leader with a 27% U.S. market share. IBM was No. 2, and Apple and Tandy came in at No. 3 and No. 4.”

“Could Dell ever come up with a PlayStation or an iPod on its own? ‘We could. But I don’t think that’s our strategy,’ Dell CEO Kevin Rollins insists. ‘I think there are those who come up with those products, but frankly, as far as technologies that actually help customers, those two products are a one-product event. You can’t just have one product and then say you’re the innovative leader of the world. I’m a big admirer of everything [Apple’s] done. It’s phenomenal. But then to say it’s the world-beating wonder of forever? No, it’s not.’ Hmm, sounds like a case of Apple envy, which is understandable these days. While Dell is almost six times more profitable than Apple, its market cap is only three times bigger. Of course, thanks to the iPod, Apple is growing faster right now, and Steve Jobs’ company has all the buzz,” Serwer writes.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Dell’s CEO is turning out to be potentially nuttier than even Microsoft’s CEO/Dancing Monkey, Steve Ballmer. Rollins needs to learn how to keep his mouth shut and stop oozing jealousy towards Apple. Dell should be plenty worried about Apple and the Mac platform’s capacity to take away business from Dell and these continued comments by Rollins show his fear. Dell should also be worried about China, which could soon potentially eat commodity Wintel box assemblers like Dell for lunch, but that’s another story.

Fortune’s survey asked businesspeople to vote for 10 companies that they admired most, from any industry. On the top ten list of “Innovation,” Dell was absent while Apple Computer placed 3rd after Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (1st) and FedEx (2nd). On the top ten “Computers” list, at number 1 (ironically, since they’ve exited the PC business) sits IBM with a score of 7.61, Dell at number 2, with 7.46, and Apple Computer scored 6.84, which was good enough for 3rd place. In computer software, Apple isn’t even included on the list – so, now you know just about everything you need to know why this list is a mess. Apple is one of the top software developers in the world.

Fortune and its survey partner, Hay Group, asked the top managers at 582 companies (the largest by revenues in each sector) to judge their competition. In all, 10,000 executives, directors, and securities analysts rated the companies in their industry on eight attributes (Innovation, Employee talent, Use of corporate assets, Social responsibility, Quality of management, Financial soundness, Long-term investment, Quality of products/services). Fortune then asked voters to name the companies they most admire in any business from a pool that included last year’s top quartile of finishers plus the top two on each industry list.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
BusinessWeek: Rather than dismissing Apple products as fads, Dell should try starting a few – January 31, 2005
Dismissive Dell CEO not impressed with Apple Mac mini, calls iPod a ‘one-product wonder’ and a ‘fad’ – January 17, 2005
Michael Dell owes Apple an apology; Apple up 176 percent vs. Dell’s 13 percent in past 12 months – January 15, 2005