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Dell Knocks Off Compaq 61

With the 3rd quarter results in, it appears that Dell has beaten Compaq in sales, at least in the United States. Compaq continues to be ahead worldwide, however, they are expected to be overtaken by Dell in that realm as well, according to IDC. The article also has some rates of growth information on other computer retailers, which clearly demarcates the difference between direct sales vs. the traditional method.
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Dell Knocks Off Compaq

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  • Ahem. All modern (486+) Compaqs use standard memory, but I remeber the Deskpro 386 had a really wierd memory card/module that looked somewhat like an ISA board, but used an extented connector.
  • Yeah, the DeskPro case was awesome to work on, the way everything came apart easily, with no tools, everything folded out nicely on hinges. Absolutely fantastic. Almost as nice as some of the Mac's I've worked on. . .

    I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said "Information wants to be free".
  • I was not clear - we have to pay, because we actually use it now and then - when stupid morons send documents in Word etc...
  • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Monday October 25, 1999 @04:04AM (#1590119) Homepage
    I actually would choose Dell at this point over anyplace local.

    Maybe its just my area (I live in the typical American middle-sized town; so typical that we're one of the major test markets), but the caliber of the people who own/work in the local computer stores is really disappointing. Prices are high, the service is rather sluggish and the quality of the end products leaves something to be desires. Add to that the fact that two of the local places (and I don't mean like Best Buy here, I mean local) routinely sell illegal copies of software -- one of them even got raided by the feds last year.

    Given the choice of walking into a store and having some high school student in a stupid shirt try to push the most expensive system or going to Dell's website and choosing exactly what I want for a lower price... Well, that's a no-brainer. It goes against my instinct which tells me that mom-and-pop shops ought to be supported, but the factors which beg against my local options are just overwhelming.

    That said, I know that there are a few really good local shops (we had one in Madison, where I grew up), but I find they are exceedingly the minority. Maybe it just has something to do with the sort of person who would go out and start a local computer place; maybe it's just a matter of the stress of maintaining a storefront and competing with a thousand other companies all making due with razor-thin profits; maybe I'm just sick of dealing with high schoolers. In any event, mailorder computers rule the way they're done today.


  • In my experience, Compaqs are unreliable, buggy, loaded with junk, and hard to upgrade. Compaq should be thankful that they've actually been able to keep up with market growth. I would rate them a notch above Packard Bell and no higher.
  • I wonder if this includes corporate sales? If so I can see why. My company is all Dell and we are one of the larger it employers in this area.
  • Of course, Dell haven't actually invented anything to deserve being where they are, they've just found a better way of putting a clapped out system called a PC into a better-perceived box. So, Mr.Dell, now you've nicked Compaq's place, are you going to do any better than them and actually innovate, or are you just going to ride the PC system until it dies a death then jump on someone else's bandwagon? Someone's going to have to take the frst step ... will it be you?
  • Dell still don't give that real sense of the warm and fuzzies that some very large corporations have when buying Compaq.

    Dell have hit Compaq on the break, with very competitively priced desktop systems that *are complete*. You buy a PC from Dell, you get the whole 9 yards, PC, Monitor, Speakers, etc etc.

    With Compaq, if you don't explicitly state that you want these things, you don't get them.

    That's not so bad for corporate buyers, but it's a big deal for the home user. Also, Dell's software deals are fantastic, especially when it comes to getting Office real cheap. That's a big hit across the board.

    Support? Well, *my* experience of Dell and Compaq support is that they're both pretty good. Dell's online stuff is better (dial in your asset tag and your stuff appears), while Compaq's is confusing and obtuse (and WTF *is* a SoftPaq? :). I've had decent service from field engineers from both companies (turn up on time, fix the problem in the time allowed etc), while other offices I hear from tell horror stories of Dell taking three weeks to send an engineer etc.

    Acid test? We put Dell PCs on every desk. Compaqs are used for deliverable machines and test rigs.

    We use Dell servers, because they rock.

    But as for the sales figures, the massive buying power of Compaq's biggest customers will knock Dell back into 2nd place.
  • There's a complex of issues surrounding whether to 'do it' inhouse or farm it out to a contractor - it's just competition for jobs - I keep a stock of spare parts to fix our PC's, known tested, good parts, often run everyday in the shop, to do *quick* swaps outs and minimize down time - but I'm expecting this to become more difficult as more and more people WILL buy 'prefab-warrentied' PC's as they succumb to the vendors sales pitch of how great it's going to be. A few examples of the difficulties on this path: One vendor offered system boards with CPU's and fans pre-installed, all under a 'warrenty' - what happened in reality is that their cheap fans crapped out, and I couldn't change the $10 things w/o voiding a warrenty sticker! We had to suffer days of down to to ship the whole mobo back just to get a stinkin' fan replaced. Another brand of pre-fab showed up with 'no disks present' and we had to wait a day for a tech to drive over and pull off the "Warrenty Void if removed!" sticker and plug it in. There are other considerations.

  • by rbf ( 2305 )
    As a hard core (and nosed ;-) Alpha user this may be a little biased.

    Ok first, some of Compaq's x86 line may be crap. I've only had experience with a few of the Q's x86 systems and those were fine. Since I use Alphas I don't really care...

    Now that a new head has been sewn on we'll have to just wait and see if it was a good choice or not. The Q does need to be more price competitive with the other major players. Some of their x86 lines could also use a little quality improvement. In general their systems are pretty cool. I think the Q's new K7 systems are awesome, but they still can't quite touch an Alpha!

    Compaq as a company, at least the enterprise group, are a bunch of pretty cool people! The upper management may still need some work, but the enterprise group from what I've seen has their head screwed on stright. As an Alpha user I find the quality of their Alpha systems to be the best! Of course, most of the quality came from DEC...

    As for DELL, I would rather build myself a system then buy one from them!

    rbf who is typing this on a Alpha running Debian GNU/Linux 2.1 with Linux 2.2.13.

  • IDC doesn't make their surveys available for free, so you have to rely on the reporting of the people who do buy them. Bit of a shame. Still, I thought some people might be interested in a Sun press-release which quotes figures from a Q2 1999 server survey [].

    btw, these IDC general servey surveys divide into 3 groups - entry level ($1,000,000). It also splits into Unix and general server. For Sun, "entry level" equates to its E450 and below, mid-range = Ex500 range, and high-end = Starfire. Over the last year Sun has more than doubled it's shipments of Starfires! (They recently finished building a new factory for them) For almost all of Sun's products, demand is exceeding supply - Sun has nearly $1billion in unfulfilled orders at the moment! It's also continuing to grow pretty steadily at 20-25% per year, and is still getting that despite it being some time since it introduced new hardware - their nice UltraSparc-III is rather late.

    The only big computer hardware company that is growing faster than Sun, is Dell. However, Sun is pure-Unix and Dell is pure-PC, while the other biggers (HP, IBM and Compaq) are all mixed...

  • by jafac ( 1449 )

    I still remember the time I was troubleshooting a backup problem - Netware, several of our largest clients had this problem where SPX would just hang up intermittently. Since backup on Netware used SPX, it was the backup software that hung on top of that, so to the customer, we were the bad guys. I searched through our call-tracking database and noticed a pattern. Every last one of the customers that had this problem were using high-end Compaq servers (Proliants?). We couldn't reproduce the problem in-house, so our coder's couldn't pick it apart. So we *ahem* borrowed a Proliant from IT, blew away NT and installed Novell, and whaddya know? we were able to reproduce the problem. But by that time, we had lost three of these major accounts, and our company was already in the early stages of being slowly digested following a rather unfriendly merger, I moved on. I don't think they ever did solve that problem. It happened with various brands of ethernet cards, so we couldn't pin it down to a specific driver, and we couldn't pin it down to the OS or SPX itself, because it only happened on those Compaq Proliants (in fact, when we replaced the Compaq at one customer site, with a generic off-brand clone, the problem disappeared.).

    Nothing torqued me off more than the disk partition crap though. You never knew if repartitioning the disk was going to break something or not. Sometimes you could do that just fine, other times, you'd never boot the machine again. . .

    I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said "Information wants to be free".
  • Is this a victory for Dell specifically or direct sales generally?

    Selling PCs is different from selling dishwashers or shoes, since short product cycles and rapidly-dropping prices makes inventories a millstone around the neck of channel marketers, but if I were a manufacturer in any industry who relied on a sales channel to reach my customers, I'd be looking over my shoulder for a Dell clone.
  • for instance the compaq only memory modules they used to ship with their computers. I'm not a compaq user so I haven't got a clue whether they stopped doing that. I'm sure there are more examples to be found.
  • Dell is a good company. They make good quality computers at very competitive prices. Compaq computers, on the other hand, are utter piece of crap, specially Presarios. You won't believe what you see when you open one of those. Very propietary, usually with a built in sound/video/winmodem, their computer are underpreformers. A 500mz P3 Presario can be beaten by a typical P2 400 Dell because of crap Compaq components. And don't even think of running linux on a Presario. Compaq DOES not support NT on Presarios, so you get the idea, they use crap Win9x-only hardware...
  • Well, IBM was the computer maker of the 70's.
    Compaq was the success story of the 80's,
    and Dell is kicking ass in the 90's.

    Dell represents the new way of doing things... and many companies are learning from them.

    How many can remember all the companies that were making computers in the early 80's? There were tons... and the vast majority are out of business or do not make computers anymore at all. The fact that Compaq rose from this, and did so well, leaves me to believe that they will be able to adapt and they will continue to do well in the future... just as IBM is doing well now.
  • Doh, the Compaq Alpha servers/stations are produced by the Digital division of Compaq which they bought a year ago. I DON'T think Compaq spends a penny from PC sales on the Alpha developemnt. If you want to help Alpha division, buy an AlphaStation/Server. And 95% compaq PCs are utter, worst pieces of crap I have ever seen when compared to good computers like Dell or Micron. See my post below.
  • This is bullshit. Compaq does not use the same components as Dell. At least on the home systems they SOLDER things like sound and video on motherboard, so forget about getting a better video card because there is no AGP slot.... The video cards are of course ATI which are the shittiest on the mnarket. The modems are the crap winmodems. Compaq companents ARE of lower quality.
  • Try to install Linux or NT or Linux on a typical Presario. Good luck. Show me ONE innovation by compaq. In PC market they are just OEM who makes shitty computers. They do have an Alpha division that makes its own CPUs, components and OSes, but Alpha != PC
  • Dell's work fine for me, you haven't really supported Compaqs yet ..
  • Who wants a pre-built computer anyway?
  • That is what happens when you stuff sub-standard parts in computers. Death to prefab computers!
  • ...considering the fact that Dell is on the Giga Group's "Vendor Watch"...
  • Strange, the last thing I heard about Dell is that they were experiancing supply chain problems which where leading to large DOA machines. Still, the problems I am having with Compaq don't make them any better!

    Given the choice I would buy a Dell direct from them. If something goes wrong I have one number to call and one comany to deal with.
  • by Foogle ( 35117 ) on Monday October 25, 1999 @03:18AM (#1590147) Homepage
    Dell's systems are consistently of a higher quality than Compaqs (at least, home-systems are). In my experience, Compaq tends to use more "all-in-one" solutions, particularly on the low end with integrated peripherals on the motherboard. When those peripherals are cheap, the whole systems suffers and they're hard to upgrade. Dell's Dimension series are seriously a joy to use, and I'd recommend them to any potential buyer.

    Of course, both companies are Linux-supporters, so it's sad they can't both come out on top :(


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • >with most of these companies you can more or >less choose your parts. THat may be so, but I guess for me it's mainly just that I don't trust anyone else to build my machine to the specs I want properly. Especially not Dell or Compaq. I use a Dell at work, and it is one of the worst boxes I've ever worked wait...maybe that's the NT on it. But anyway, for my personal computer, I'd rather be the one putting it together. and stuff.
  • to me, a diamond viper tnt2 is a diamond viper tnt2, whether a maylasian worker puts it in there or i do. it's just i'm more or less garunteed that the dvd drive they stick in there with it will play nicely, since they've done the testing and research that i don't want to do.

    i have also used a dell winnt4 box at work, and it sucked as much as you said. but i've also (an am writing on right now) a compaq deskpro with winnt4 and it bluescreens/stops for no apparent reason just as much.

    but linux on my inspiron 3200 - oh baby ! i like that.

  • Well, if you want a good prebuild computer i wouldn't advice to buy a Compaq.
    First, the cheaper models are build by Acer.
    Second, of the 44 computers I bought 8 were DOA and 16 had problems.
    The model was Deskpro 2000 5166.
  • I used to buy my computers from the small computer shop down the road, but i'm afraid they can't compete with dell/compaq. i know what i'm going to get, i can more or less track it right to the point it gets put on my doorstep, i know the support will be there and, most importantly, the warranty will be backed up.

    in general, i have had good experiences with both companies - and i wouldn't go back to the guy down the street.

  • What's that?
  • with most of these companies you can more or less choose your parts. you're pretty much garunteed they are going to work together, and they have the size and money to backup support and warranty. i want a pre-built computer.
  • Any kind of competition has got to be a Good Thing (tm). Now, Compaq must either a) supply cheaper or b) supply better quality.
    For my own part, whenever I've used Compaq, they have been awkward. Non standard partitions on the HDD's for the diags (can you say CDROM, Compaq?), crappy cases which have n different ways of removing them across supposedly equivalent product models, and don't get me started on Token Ring NIC's. I'd prefer a DOA box to one that drops off the network for no apparent reason.
    Dell, on the other hand, have been exactly what I've needed. Easy to remove cases, components are laid out intelligently inside. You actually get the idea that Dell understand that people will want to perform maintenance on their PC's at some point, and they realise that your average PC engineer doesn't have hands as small as a 4 year old.
    So, smart work Dell; put more effort in, Compaq. Interesting to draw parallels within the OS market - take this as a case study of how market forces can drive prices down and quality up. American DOJ please take note!
  • For once, the better product is succeeding, athough I don't think we should be cheering Mike Dell on his way to another $billion. Micron is still making the best mass manufactured systems...
  • Slapping cards in a motherboard works fine for me. I don't see the advantage of Compaq reinventing everything they put in a Box. A side from the fact that you run into trouble if you try to upgrade your hardware, there is also the issue of software support. I prefer the parts in my box to be as standard as possible because it makes it much easier to fix software problems.

    Dell realizes this and doesn't put exotic hardware in their boxes but instead uses standard components with a nice price/performance ratio. This is why they are growing.
  • Dell's linux boxen are very nice indeed. I won't be at all surprised to see them emerge as one of the premiere linux hardware vendors. Plus, they've been effective at seeding the market by giving away a bunch of Precision workstations in cross-promotions with linuxcare, etc. Seems like every time I turn around, another linux company is running a "win a Dell" drawing. Good strategy-- I won one of those, and based on the quality of my box, I've probably sold four or five servers for them.

    Are there any figures on how much linux sales are affecting their bottom line? That would be interesting to see.

    We hope your rules and wisdom choke you....

  • We're a mid-sized internet company and there's one reason we use Dell instead of Compaq... Dell can get our servers out to us 2 weeks after order; Compaq takes 6 weeks. In our business, we can't order servers that far in advance; if we order something, we need it in 2 weeks. Compaq simply can't deliver.

    - Drew

  • agreeded for the most part, in general dell make better cases ; but have you played with the deskpro slimline case? everything slides and folds out in a very nice way .... they have got it right with this one. and their servers are a dream to work with (never used a dell server)
  • The so-called added value in compaq PCs is in their proprietary design: ranging from connectors, modems, various cards built in, to even their version of Windooz. The most visible result of proprietary designs, is that you can hardly change or upgrade anything, or they break down completely. That's why I consider compaq to be amongst the lowest quality pc vendors around.

    No matter how much money they put into marketing, I'd rather buy anything else before considering compaq.

    My impression of Dell is that they are still ok, but they may soon develop a penchant for proprietary designs to *differentiate* their products from the crowd and command a *premium* on top of the market prices.

    I'd rather stick to no-brand clones that sports hardware components that follow well-known standards. Even if the pc is going to run Windows, I'll make sure that all components are on the Linux compatibility list, not because the pc is ever going to run Linux, but because that means that the components have well-known interfaces and properties; and then I know what I am buying and then I can compare prices and quality.

    Compaq PCs are for people who want quality, but do not have the brains to assess it by themselves. In the end they just get crap.
  • Couldn't agree more. The last compaq I used ended its life with me leaping up and down onto of the moterboard screaming "bastard, bastard bastard!" Suffice to say the fools had welded the cpu in, so when I was dismantling this old 486 for parts I couldn't even take the cpu to use as a coaster. On the other hand, apart from using some non-standard RAM, I problem I understand that doesn't happen now, my father's Dell P200 is a very nicely built machine. ditto my brothers old Dimension 486Dx2-66. mine? Well its self built, but if someone asks me where to buy a PC, I always point them at Dell.
  • Dell was having MAJOR problems with it's LCD supplier for laptops. For almost 3 months my company had to buy ThinkPads instead of Latitudes because Dell just couldn't get us the systems we needed. (I'm talking 200 laptops here...)

    Fortunately, the supply problem has been cleared up and they're rolling again.

    I haven't heard of any Dell DOAs though...
  • by Effugas ( 2378 ) on Monday October 25, 1999 @04:04AM (#1590167) Homepage
    I go to Santa Clara University. From our tech guides-- "If you have a Mac, do X. If you have a PC, do Y. If you have a Compaq, go get this alternative guide." I'm not joking. While Dell doesn't make purely standard "clone boxen" with a name and a hell of a support infrastructure, they're far less willing to play games with their motherboards such that they manage to create more instabilities than they're designed to ostensibily eliminate. HP Kayak's? Sorry, no NCR-810 support in the BIOS. Packard Bell? I'll just say nothing. Compaq's the world leader in creating motherboards with spiffy but grossly untested and non-standard features. Dell makes boxes that work. That's been my experience, doing tech support for a couple hundred machines on campus. You'll never see a Dell box with an arbitrary 32MB RAM limit(must have saved a few pennies per motherboard), for instance. That being said, if I remember right, Compaq did the initial reverse engineering of the IBM BIOS. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have PC clones. I just wish they'd(or anyone, really) would start advertising that they use Asus or Abit mobo's. Yours Truly, Dan Kaminsky DoxPara Research
  • That being said, if I remember right, Compaq did the initial reverse engineering of the IBM BIOS. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have PC clones.

    Actually, it was Phoenix that reverse engineered the BIOS. I think Compaq were the first to build and sell a system around the Phoenix BIOS, though, and they were certainly the first to make a 386 based machine (ahead of IBM, even -- quite impressive at the time).

  • ... they offered an Athlon based model.. Our place buys Dells, I just upgraded my desktop, and had to settle for a Precision box...
    .. For me an extra 20% in FP on a desktop counts - not every small test run is offloadable to SPARC farm...

    Good thing Dells run Linux perfectly... Though we still had to pay for that NT license..

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.