Tuesday, July 6, 2010
In what could be termed the least surprising news of late,
New York Times reports on recently disclosed internal documents which
show that Dell shipped close to 12 million doomed machines between 2003 and
2005. The problem: leaky capacitors. The excuse: difficult math
That's right. According to Dell, their computers can't be used for math.
Since every operation performed by a computer comes down to binary
arithmetic, that would pretty much make Dell's useless—which is why
this ranks as some of the least surprising news of late.
It gets better.
Dell's own lawyers bought a thousand of the problem machines. In a
refreshingly egalitarian act, Dell refused to replace their computers as
Of course, Dell can't replace the dying motherboards: that would require
replacement parts. The entire Dell model was built around an on-demand
supply chain with minimal inventory. As such, it's ill equipped to deal with
an extinction level event. Even under the best of circumstances, customers
are unlikely to get replacement parts for a three year old system from Dell.
Given failures of this magnitude and Dell's propensity for proprietary,
non-standard parts, there was simply no way that Dell could source and
replace all the failed motherboards.
Just how many of the Dell's failed? Given three years, 97 percent failed.
Sure, on a long enough timeline the life expectancy of every computer drops
to zero, but 3 years for a solid state component is entering disposable
If you were lucky enough to 1) get Dell to admit that there was a problem
and 2) replace the computer, you may have just ended up with another bum
machine. A third party contractor hired by Dell found that Dell replaced the
dead with the dying.