Michael Dell founded the company Dell to offer network servers, workstations, storage systems, Ethernet switches, desktops, and notebook PCs after successfully selling his computers to customers directly in Texas. Over the course of three years his sales volume warranted the opening of an international sales office in 1987. In 1988 he began selling to large customers including several government agencies and Dell became a publicly traded company. Dell made the bold decision in 1994 to eliminate their products from retail stores and focused on mail order customers. In 1996 Dell began selling through their website as well. By eliminating the retail store presence Dell was able to reduce costs, reduce inventory, and maximize profit. Dell utilized a built to order system that allowed customers to specify exactly what they did and did not want on their Dell computer. Dell's just in time inventory system lowered inventory to 6 days and storage costs were saved. In 1995 Dell entered the Chinese market. With a population of 1.3 billion this was a great new market for Dell to tap into. IBM, Compaq, and Hewlett-Packard had all ready realized this and had opened offices in China in the early 1990s. Dell quickly became competitive with not only those companies but also Legend, Founder, Great Wall, Toshiba, NEC Japan, and Acer. With so many competitors Dell faces intense competition to distinguish itself and to penetrate the market.
Chinese Market is Open for Dell
With at least 9 other major competitors in the Chinese market Dell is all ready dealing with a high level of competition. After spending quite a few years competing with Legend and Founder for the low-end market Dell switched to the high-end market in 2004. By breaking down the total market into smaller categories Dell is seeking to divide and conquer each individually. In the high-end market Dell is able to realize larger profits by focusing on servers, printers, and data storage gear and by raising prices by 13%. The low-end market is experiencing smaller profits and as such the companies in that market will be looking for new markets to penetrate. Dell will need to differentiate themselves from the companies they faced in the low-end market if Dell wishes to continue to capture the high-end market. The threat of competitors such as Founder and Legend entering the high-end market appears to be high.
Dell's built to order model provides product differentiation as customers are able to pick and choose what they do and do not need. This allows Dell to gain owner loyalty. There is no specific mention of contracts in the text, therefore Dell would benefit greatly in the high-end market from using these. While Dell has significant repeat business this is not something that Dell can count but if a contract was in place it would guarantee revenue at timely intervals and also block other competitors. The large corporate accounts comprise two-thirds of Dell's current sales.
Dell responded to the Chinese governments push for software to counter Windows by working with Oracle to offer Linux-based Oracle software on Dell's products. This operating system is cheaper and allows Dell to not only appease the government but also to recognize higher profits. In addition Dell has been able to penetrate the Chinese government with Dell products after Legend spreading themselves too thin. If Dell is able to continue to ally themselves with the Chinese government Dell should be able to gain larger brand recognition as well as owner loyalty and increase Dell's market share.
Dell is in great position in terms of its product. While some cell phones are able to mimic some of the features of a PC they can not do all of the tasks. For example a cell phone is able to send and receive email and users are able to utilize the internet, however there are limited software programs. The threat of substitute products is low.