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Sony, Dell and Laptop Madness

If PCs are now trucks, as Steve Jobs suggests, then there have been some wrecks on the computing highway this week.

First, there's Sony, which is recalling half a million Vaio notebooks because they can, apparently, get hot enough to "cause skin burns". Ouch. Oddly, though, Sony has only received a handful of complaints about laptops overheating, and apparently a software download can actually solve the problem. So, this recall sounds like more trouble than it's worth.

And then there's Dell. This is quite a bit more serious. According to documents -- most of them internal Dell documents -- recently unearthed in a lawsuit, Dell allegedly not only knowingly sold millions of faulty computers but misled customers about why the computers were faulty and replaced bad computers with other bad computers.

The problem with the computers stemmed from their capacitors (which can cause very serious problems if they don't work properly), which Dell didn't actually make. But, according to the lawsuit documents, Dell allegedly knew that there were and would be problems with the computers and the capacitors in them but went on selling those computers, anyway.

Now, all of this is supposedly a few years behind us, and Dell, after a myriad of problems, has been trying to set itself back on track for the last five years. Part of Dell's revised strategy has been to open itself to the channel as never before. And while we have no reason to believe that Dell is currently trying to mislead anybody, revelations like the one about the capacitors are certain to make partners think twice about doing business with a company that they might not have trusted much in the past.

Hopefully the alleged capacitor issue is just one of those ugly incidents that happened in a company in crisis and won't happen again. But for Dell, a company that's trying to rebuild its credibility with a number of audiences, this week's news is an obvious setback -- a flat tire, perhaps (at least) on the road to recovery.

What's your take on Dell as a company? Do you trust Dell? Do you partner with Dell? Why or why not? Send your thoughts to lpender@rcpmag.com. Get your e-mails in soon, please, as we're going to start running reader feedback again imminently.

Posted by Lee Pender on July 01, 2010 at 11:56 AM


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