Is Dell quietly becoming cooler than Apple?

A few of my investment decisions have been influenced by things that I see my kids and their friends showing the most interest in.  Nintendo vs. Playstation, Nick or Cartoon Network, You Tube or Hulu…

Until recently I didn’t even realize Connor and his friends knew the difference between Dell and Apple.  Let me preface this by saying most of these kids have access to both.  At Connors school they are required to do portion of their homework on-line.  They have Apple computers in their labs at school. Now Connor wants his own computer in his room at his desk.  He specifically said he wanted a Dell.  “One of the ones you can change the case on”.  I asked if he’d rather have an Apple.  He said “um, no”.  Then he very specifically, and surprisingly, said he doesn’t like the browser.  I asked if he meant Safari and he said “ya”.  Then, to my complete surprise, he said “Apple’s are not as cool as Dell”.  One of the more shocking moments of my week as this was without my influence at all.  In fact, I’ve often represented Apple as the solution for kids because they’re a little easier to use and, until recently, harder to corrupt.

Apparently most of the kids in the Senior Academy, the high school at East Wake Academy, carry Dell’s.  Affordability probably factored in the older students purchasing decision but like it or not this type of presence does have an influence on they younger kids.  iPads?  Useless.  Try having an 8-year-old type a paragraph on a freakin’ iPad.  You might as well give them your phone to do it.  In fact, my Motorola Atrix has far more memory, processing capability and docking solutions than any iPad.  I could hook it to the lapdock and provide him a more suitable WORKING platform.  That’s the key here…work to be done.  Ever try actually working productively on a tablet for more than a few minutes?  You won’t do it twice.

Now to be fair Connor and his friends all praise iPods.  Yet they seem to have no interest in tablets.  Not sure what the difference is other than the size.  But they really want Dells.  I’ve heard them praise the name.  Something I never really expected.  When asked about a Macbook or a Dell I’ve even heard 13 and 14 year old girls answer Dell.  Where did this come from and what does it mean?  Are Macbooks going to be relegated to a pretentious, over 25 crowd who are more interested in looking hip than actual productivity? Note: writing email, sorting photos and music is not “productivity”.  Productivity is spending hours upon hours at a physical keyboard.  Most adults I know who use Macs exclusively have never written as much in one sitting as I wrote in this blog post.  Of course there are exceptions and I’m stereotyping but the real point of all this is the cool factor.

Could it be that Dell is gaining traction against Apple at their own game?  Could Dell actually become cooler than Apple?  Gasp!  Has it already happened and adults with their heads in the clouds just don’t realize it yet?  If so, Apple has a real problem because their sales are now solely based on product image.  Not performance or innovative technology but shiny aluminum cases housing flakey, and yes, unstable operating systems when compared to Windows 7.  The loss of Jobs, the emergence of Dells image and Windows 8 on the horizon all may mean trouble for the #1 titan of over priced, gotta have it garbage.

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