Michael Dell used his keynote address at the end of a one-day user conference to answer questions from customers about recent announcements. Asked whether Compaq's planned merger with HP threatened his own company, Dell cited what he termed the industry's "interesting set of reactions" to the deal.
He higlighted Compaq's sharp year-over-year decline in PC shipments, announced on 24 October during the company's third-quarter financial report, and on the billions in market capitalisation the two companies have lost since they announced their merger.
"Somebody isn't happy. I'll give you a hint: it isn't us," Dell said. "The track record on these large mergers and consolidations is not good. We see it as more of an opportunity for us than a risk."
Dell said his company was organisationally strong and generating sales growth. He also addressed audience queries about the company's Windows XP plans, and about its recently announced alliance with storage vendor EMC.
Dell is on a panel of chief executives scheduled to speak on 26 October before Bill Gates' keynote address at the Windows XP launch event. He said his company expected to soon have 20,000 internal Windows XP users. Among customers, Dell anticipates faster adoption in the consumer arena than in the enterprise market.
"We believe XP will immediately reach - in fact, already has reached - double-digit penetration in the consumer space," he said. "Business adoption will take a different path. I believe companies that just moved to Windows 2000 are unlikely to run to XP."
Regarding EMC, Dell ducked a question about whether customers can expect the same level of discounting on the newly co-branded Clariion products that they have come to expect on Dell's own products.
"I think you can expect we'll be as aggressive as we've always been," Dell said. "I don't have any pricing details to give you today, but you can rest assured we'll be aggressive in our pricing."