14 years later, Michael Dell tries to walk back Apple attack, but fails

“Much has changed in technology over the past 14 years, including Michael Dell’s forecast for the industry’s biggest player, Apple,” Mark Milian reports for CNN.

“At a tech conference in October 1997, Dell was asked what he would do with Apple if he were in charge of the beleaguered company,” Milian reports. “‘What would I do? I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders,’ Dell replied.”

“When asked about his famous statement on Tuesday at a conference in San Francisco, Dell paused to ponder the question as the audience laughed loudly,” Milian reports. “‘It’s a great question and a great opportunity to clarify what I said,’ Dell said. ‘The meaning of my answer was that I am the CEO of Dell. I don’t think of being a CEO of any other company… I am not a CEO for hire,’ the Dell chief said.”

Milian reports, “We’ll never know how Jobs would have responded to Dell’s about-face. But when an Apple employee asked the newly installed interim CEO in 1997 about Dell’s original statement, according to venture capitalist and former Apple employee John Lilly, Jobs said, ‘F*** Michael Dell.'”

MacDailyNews Take: “About-face?” Where? Dell did no such thing.

“I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders” does not mean “I am the CEO of Dell.” After 14 years, Dell wants to pretend that we’re all too stupid to understand what he meant by “I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”

The fact is: After nearly a decade and a half, Michael Dell is still not man enough to publicly apologize and admit his stupidity. That’s probably as good a reason as any why his company, a peddler of cheap, consumer-grade, plastic crap, is a floundering mess that the Apple Steve Jobs built could buy three times over just with cash on-hand.

F*** Michael Dell, indeed.

Michael Dell

Related articles:
Michael Dell: I was ‘largely misconstrued’ when I said SIDAGTMBTTS – October 18, 2011
Apple now worth fourteen times Dell’s market value – September 20, 2011
Apple now worth thirteen times Dell’s market value – August 26, 2011
Apple now worth twelve times Dell’s market value – January 27, 2011
Apple now worth eleven times Dell’s market value – September 23, 2010
Apple now worth ten times Dell’s market value – September 09, 2010
Apple now worth nine times Dell’s market value – June 01, 2010
Apple now worth eight times Dell’s market value – May 21, 2010
Apple now worth seven times Dell’s market value – January 26, 2010
Apple now worth sextuple Dell’s market value – October 20, 2009
Apple now worth quintuple Dell’s market value – February 12, 2009
Apple could buy Dell outright; Mac-maker has more cash on hand than Dell is worth – October 21, 2008
Apple now worth quadruple Dell’s market value – May 01, 2008
Apple now worth triple Dell’s market value – December 06, 2007
Apple now worth double Dell’s market value – July 27, 2007
Beleaguered Dell: Shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders – March 02, 2007
Biting words on Apple come back to haunt Dell – February 10, 2007
Steve Jobs emails Apple team: Michael Dell not the best prognosticator, Apple worth more than Dell – January 16, 2006
Apple now worth more than Dell – January 13, 2006


  1. the fact that Mr. Dell says this only weeks after Steve Jobs passing, only reveals Mr. Dell’s true character. As the saying goes, “adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.” The same might be said of opportunity.

    1. @norm Dwyer
      “the fact that Mr. Dell says this only weeks after Steve Jobs passing, only reveals Mr. Dell’s true character”

      He said it because he was asked about it.

  2. Know what Michael “One Trick Pony” Dell, no other company would have you as CEO. By the way, does anyone have a link to the video where SJ showed Dell with a target painted on him and where SJ said something like, “We are coming after you!”

  3. I read almost every post on mdn. I think on this issue you all are morons. In 1997 the statement was fair. Apple was in the shitter, and didn’t look like the future to anyone. I can understand why Dell would say that then. His company was booming. And why wouldn’t he want apple to fail at that time. Less competition.

    A good friend of mine is retired pilot of Southwest Airlines, 21 years as a captain. The airline industry is rapidly changing, and he said he “no one can predict the future, but having been apart of Southwest Airlines for 21 years, I believe that whatever the future of the airline industry, Southwest will be at the top or near it”.

    I think that’s a fair statement for Apple now for sure, but I don’t know you can say that and believe it in 1997.

    1. So, name calling makes you feel better?

      Of course it’s hard to predict the future, if it wasn’t we’d all be rich.

      The point is that Mr. Dell not only is trying to re-write what he said, but isn’t able to say, “Yeah, I really missed the mark on that one.” Of course, then he’d have to go on to explain all the other ones he blew it on as well.

      He really only got one thing right but did very well at that one thing and there’s no shame in that, but trying to change what he said is pretty silly.

    2. A great many people on this website would disagree with your assertion that you couldn’t know what Apple would be in 1997. We knew Apple was that much better then, and now everyone else knows as well !

    3. No, he didn’t mean that otherwise he’s say that. You’d be somewhat correct if he said THAT today. Instead, he’s still backpedaling like Obama three years into Hope & Change. Same cloth, different colors.

    4. Utter nonsense. If Apple was in the toilet, then what would be the point of returning a few dollars to the shareholders? There was barely anything else to lose.

      That would be like selling at the bottom, like many investors did during the 2008 recession. You don’t sell at the bottom.

    5. In 1997, the statement was not only not fair, it was mean spirited and stupid.

      BTW, even in 1997, Dell’s company was a deer in the headlight of a fast-moving train called “China”. Dell had nothing to offer that couldn’t be easily reproduced by lower-cost producers, unlike the company he so easily and dismissively disparaged.

    6. Look, irrespective of where Apple was in 1997, a CEO with any class would have declined to comment, other than to say “I’m too busy running my company to concern myself with another one.” But he chose to open his mouth, and now he has to live with the consequences.

    7. If Apple was a sick racehorse, Dell’s only cure was to shoot it and put it out of it’s misery. Steve could see the internal problems like a CAT scan reading a diseased body! He cured the disease, and the horse went on to win the Triple Crown!

      Dell had no intelligent idea of what the solution to Apple’s problem was. He should just admit it. M. Dell, CEO=Clueless Executive Orifice of the anus kind.

  4. I have no love for Michael Dell. However, the question was what would HE do if HE was running Apple. I think the answer still stands to this day. Michael Dell is not Steve Jobs and he knows it. Had Michael Dell been running Apple it would not be the Apple we know today. It would have been a disaster.

  5. ‘The meaning of my answer was that I am the CEO of Dell. I don’t think of being a CEO of any other company… I am not a CEO for hire,’ the Dell chief said.”

    That’s what he wants you to believe, but he makes a habit of offering his crappy advice to other CEOs. We all know about his advice with regard to Apple and his revisionist take on it 14 years on, but on 12th October2011, he was offering his worthless opinion to HP, suggesting that their decision to spin off it’s unprofitable PC business was wrong on three counts.

    He may not be a CEO for hire, but he can’t keep his mouth shut and makes a habit of telling other companies how to run their business. Fortunately, those companies pay no regard to his advice.

  6. Yawn… old news about REALLY old news. 🙂

    By this time next year, Apple’s PC market share in the U.S. will have surpassed Dell (even without counting iPads as “PCs”).

  7. I almost made the mistake of buying a Dell laptop a few years ago. I even went ahead and placed an order for one through an operator on the phone. But just a few hours afterwards I bumped into a friend at a trade convention who happened to be carrying the exact same model that I placed an order on. I played around with it for a half hour or so and decided to call the operator to cancel the order. The entire thing looked like it was made of cheap plastic – hunks of plastic were hanging over the sides. It looked like an absolute disaster. I think that’s why Dell and Microsoft make such good bedfellows. Design seems to be very low down on their list of priorities.

    The trouble with Dell is you can’t tell how a laptop will turn out in the flesh as there aren’t any shops you can go to handle the thing before buying. I think Apple stores is one of the best ideas SJ ever thought up. It enables you to play around with the device to get a feel for it before buying.

    1. I helped my wife buy one somewhere around 10 years ago. It was a serviceable enough windows machine, and she got her money’s worth. But, I paid the price a couple of times when I had to clean so much malware, viruses, and other crap out of it, that I invested days if not several weeks in that machine. Later, when trying to install an anti-virus upgrade, we spent a couple of more weeks trying to make it work, without success. That’s pretty much when my wife suggested getting a Mac, even though she has to run many windows programs for her sewing and embroidery hobby.

      Besides the plastic on the outside, which maybe reflected you get what you pay for, what really struck me as the difference with a Mac was the look of the inside. My PowerMac G5 was perfectly laid out with every board and wire in its place. Opening the Dell, what I saw was a mass of wires running every different direction and no real design order to the placement of the boards. That told me all I needed to know.

  8. Being an ex-Dell employee and having close contact with Michael on a number of occasions, Apple is something that has bothered him for YEARS… He knew they we’re coming and there was not a single thing he could do about it.. I still believe that Michael initially turning over Dell to be run by Kevin Rollins (Ooops!!) because he didn’t know what to do about Apple. Well, they’re here…deal with it.. AND, Bomber from Redmond is NOT going to help you… Apple will roll over Dell like a gnat and never even blink…

    1. Well Mike Dullard is certainly NOT an exemplary, innovative or thoughtful CEO. Seems as though they picked up this a-hole on the street and named the company after him. As a result Dell is yet another Dead Company Walking with nobody special at the helm. The writing is on the RIP Windows Wall.

  9. He was asked a question and he answered. Its as simple as that. (the first time around)

    The fact a bunch of nancy boys got their panties in a bunch about it does not means he owes anyone an apology.

    Really he gave the best answer he could give… What else would he have done with Apple? He surely is not skilled or smart enough to make it something insanely great!

  10. He didn’t apologize, because he still believes that had Apple shut down and given the money to the shareholders 14 years ago, then Dell’s plasticware would be considered top of the line electronics today.

      1. My guess:

        IF Apple had went under in 1997 or 1998 we’d all be stuck with white turd PC boxes running a copy of Windows that still looked like Windows 2000.

        Oh and IE6 would still be “the standard” lol.

        Ok I’m going to go throw up now.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.