Dell CEO Michael Dell is comfortable with Microsoft’s new role as both a partner for his company and a competitor in the PC business, he told an audience at the Dell World conference in Austin, Texas, this morning — with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sitting next to him on stage.
Dell’s comments came in response to a question from Bloomberg TV’s Emily Chang: “Microsoft arguably built the most powerful ecosystem in the world, and Dell used to orbit that planet,” she said. “Now Dell is buying EMC. Microsoft is making PCs. You’re saying, ‘We’re going to compete with you.’ How would you describe your relationship now. Are you friends? Are you frenemies?”
“We’re absolutely friends,” responded Dell, talking about the ways the company is working together in the cloud and on Windows.
He added later, “When I look at what Microsoft is doing with Windows 10 and the Surface family of products, what they’re doing is they’re pushing Windows 10 into new spaces and driving the platform forward. I’m actually excited about that. The reason I’m excited is it’s helping drive the Windows 10 ecosystem faster.”
But he couldn’t resist a subtle jab. “Satya’s got some nice products. The volumes are not very high, the prices are pretty high, but it’s great,” Dell said, as Nadella and the audience laughed.
Dell quickly explained, “He’s the icebreaker, and we’re coming in with products that are in volume.”
Nadella chimed in, “Our goal is to grow the ecosystem, the demand for the PC, invent new categories, stimulate demand. … So our goal is clearly to make sure that we have a vibrant ecosystem.”
And he added, “We believe that by providing the choice that speaks to the realities of our customers, we will not only drive our partnership and our success, but more importantly address the needs of the customers.
Bloomberg TV’s Chang asked Dell what his reaction was when he learned Microsoft would be making its own laptop, the recently unveiled Surface Book.
“I wanted to understand what they were doing and why they were doing it,” said Dell. “When we understood that the intent is basically to drive the platform — as I call it, the “icebreaker” strategy, push into new territory — and then we come in with a product that is more affordable, but we can sell 100 times more, great, that works.”
Also at the event, Microsoft and Dell announced an expanded partnership for hybrid cloud technologies.