Michael Dell and US private equity firm Silver Lake Partners have once again increased their offer for Dell Inc, to $13.75 a share. Shareholder voting for the deal now postponed a week until August 2.

The long drawn-out process has resembled a high-stakes poker game, with shareholders so far succeeding to extract higher offers from Mr Dell and Silver Lake. They, however, call this latest offer their “best and final proposal”.

Need a recap of the bidding war so far? Here’s a summary: Read more

Who’s buying?

PC companies just can’t get a break.

Shipments from the Taiwanese manufactures that make most of the world’s desktop and laptop computers hit a three-year low last quarter as consumers waited for fixes to Windows and decided to buy tablets and smartphones in the meantime. For those Taiwanese companies, those disappointing stats are one more reminder of the need to diversify away from their core PC business.

 Read more

Chris Nuttall

Michael Dell is ready to tear up the PC model on which he built his business in order to claw back market share lost to Asian rivals such as Lenovo and Asus.

The new high-stakes strategy is revealed in Dell’s 274-page proxy filing released on Friday and is likely to shake up competition in the ailing PC industry. Dell would switch from the build-to-order bespoke PCs that made its name to the “build-to-stock” model of more generic PCs made by its rivals that anticipate demand and are built before a purchaser has been identified.

 Read more

Chris Nuttall

Dell has entered the portable All-in-One category with the XPS 18, featuring an 18.4in Full HD screen and up to five hours of battery life.

The XPS 18 is smaller and much lighter with longer battery life than Sony’s 12lb Vaio Tap 20 - the first machine in this new category – and Lenovo’s 27in IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC, which was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics show in January. Read more

A $500bn game of chicken. That’s what it feels like as a handful of the biggest US technology companies posture over what they plan to do with their “trapped” overseas cash holdings. But like all games of chicken, the end must come eventually – and it’s hard to see that this is one the tech companies will win.

John Chambers, chief executive of Cisco Systems, struck the most provocative pose in an interview with the FT last week. After four fruitless years of arguing in Washington for a tax holiday for repatriating his foreign cash to be invested in the US, he says he’s had enough and is going to spend it somewhere else instead.

 Read more

It is ironic that both Dell and Apple shared big news last week.

Back in 1998 Michael Dell, then the crown prince of the personal computer industry, recommended that Steve Jobs shut down Apple, which was in dire shape, and distribute the proceeds to shareholders. By contrast, reflecting the turmoil now afflicting all PC makers, Mr Dell is negotiating to borrow money to make his company disappear from public view. Apple, meanwhile, announced that its shareholders would receive a Valentine’s day dividend of $2.5bn – a tiny portion of its $137bn cash pile.

 Read more

If Microsoft isn’t prepared to take a bet on the PC, then who is?

This explains why the world’s biggest software company is now considering dipping into its $67bn of cash reserves to back a buyout of Dell, a casualty of the fierce wars raging in the hardware industry.

 Read more

Chris Nuttall

For those preferring Windows and a lower-priced all-in-one PC to Apple’s 27in iMac, Dell is offering its first 27in XPS all-in-one from today.

The XPS One 27 is priced from $1,400 – $300 cheaper than the comparable iMac – and I was impressed by the brightness and resolution of the screen in a demonstration – it offers the same 2560×1440 “Quad HD”, meaning four times the resolution of 720p HDTV. Read more

Chris Nuttall

For an extreme gaming PC maker, Alienware has come up with the smallest and most moderately priced machine in its history in the $699 X51.

The company, acquired by Dell in 2006, is looking to expand beyond the 1 to 2 per cent share of the PC market owned by enthusiast gaming PCs, with a model that is quieter, more affordable and less obtrusive in a living room environment. Read more

Joseph Menn

Smack in the middle of the ultrabook and tablet hoopla from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas comes a sobering report from the market researchers at IDC: PC shipments in the critical fourth quarter were down 0.2 per cent from a year before. Read more

Chris Nuttall

The MacBook Air finally has some serious competition with the first of the new Ultrabook laptops being launched here at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.

After Toshiba unveiled what it claimed was the world’s thinnest and lightest 13.3in laptop on Thursday – the Portege Z830 - Acer followed up on Friday with the Aspire S3, which boasts 1.5 seconds start-up time from a sleep state that can last 50 days on its long-life battery. Read more

Facebook unveiled the design of its custom-built data centre and servers on Thursday, and promised to share the blueprints with the world, hoping its energy-efficient design would be copied by many others.

Innovations like a cooling system that uses no air conditioning and simplified servers have increased Facebook’s energy efficiency by 38 per cent, compared to conventional leased servers, and decreased costs by 24 per cent. Read more

Joseph Menn

An unscientific survey of employees at major US technology companies found that only 50 per cent of Yahoo workers approved of chief executive Carol Bartz’ leadership during the past year, down from 77 per cent as she got started. Read more

Chris Nuttall

A new Dell tablet with an innovative swivel-screen that turns it into a netbook grabbed all the attention at Intel’s developer forum on Tuesday.

But smartphones running the chipmaker’s Atom processor were notable in their absence again, suggesting Intel is making heavy weather of breaking into the key mobile handset industry. Read more

Joseph Menn

Dell on Tuesday began selling its first US smartphone, a model using an older version of Google’s Android operating system and seen as a lower-end entry that will be followed by more sophisticated models.

The Dell Aero joins a throng of competitors, even among Android phones, which now collectively outsell Apple’s iPhone. Read more

Joseph Menn

A second credible Taiwanese publication has weighed in with a report that Apple will introduce a 7″-screen iPad mini for the winter holidays.

The Chinese-language account in Economic Daily News, summarised by IDG here, follows a similar DigiTimes article and names multiple suppliers said to have won contracts, though they declined to comment themselves. Read more

Paul Taylor

It seems you can have it all with laptops these days – thin and light notebooks that are equally light on the wallet and offer long battery life as well.

In this week’s Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section, we look at the new, more affordable Portégé range from Toshiba and how it shapes up against offerings from Apple, Dell and Lenovo. Read more

As the spate of suicides continues at Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that manufactures electronics for the likes of Apple and Dell, David Pilling examines the darker crevices of China’s factory system.

Many factories treat their employees as fodder, refusing to employ people because they are too short, too ugly, too old – 30 is over-the-hill – or simply come from the “wrong” province. They rush through orders, even if that means workers are not properly trained on machines that can – and sometimes do – slice off a finger. They demand employees work long hours, though most are only too happy to do so because of the overtime pay they receive. They often keep back a month of pay, lest their workers find a boyfriend, or a better job, in another factory.

 Read more

Chris Nuttall

Touch is becoming a common feature on netbooks, with HP launching its first touch-enabled netbook  a day after Lenovo announced its own entry  at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The HP Mini 5102 has a capacitive touchscreen option , like the iPhone’s, but it may be a little used feature at first , with few applications able to take advantage of the display’s capabilities. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Consumer demand for portable PCs that can turn on as a fast as a phone is likely to be satisfied by the netbook and smartbook categories in 2010 , but Dell is looking out for small and medium businesses who still prefer notebooks.

Its latest Latitude models targetting this market – the E4200 and E4300 – haveLatitude ON technology,  which was first introduced in September on the higher end Latitude Z  aimed at the enterprise.  Read more