Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published on PandoDaily.com. It is being republished with permission.
Sometimes when life gets too stressful, I try to remind myself that things could be rougher. Sure, I’ve got a raucous toddler and three deadlines in two days, but at least I’m not a coal miner. At least I don’t toil in a factory that renders pink slime. And best of all, at least I’m not running a large American personal computer company that has no conceivable way of combating an existential threat to its business.
I highly recommend this as a stress-reducing technique: However ugly your life gets, just try to put yourself in Michael Dell’s shoes. Imagine what that’s like. Picture yourself at the helm of a company that rakes in $60 billion in annual revenue — and then watch the money evaporating, floating away on a post-PC cloud. You built this company on the theory that computers were a forever-business, that the world would never fall out of love with the PC, and that you would be the guy to supply their fix.
The tragedy is that you were right: The world will never fall out of love with the PC. The PC is still riding high, the PC will be bigger than ever. What blindsided you is how the word “personal computer” would come to be redefined.
The PC is not the standalone, high-maintenance, low-end commodity device that it once was, the device that made you, Michael Dell, the king of computers. The PC is now a dozen different kinds of devices that are connected through one of two or three dominant platforms. The PC includes not just laptops and desktops but also big tablets, small tablets, and surely a coming wave of hybrid devices that function as several of these things at once. All these products favor the skills that Dell, as a commodity bottom-line chaser, has never had a chance to develop: An eye for design, a flair for user interfaces, seamless data management, excellent customer service, magical marketing, and the ability to present a coherent story about how the products can fit into people’s lives.