Dell is in a mind-bogglingly large long-rumored deal to go private worth $24 billion and of note is business partner Microsoft has decided to invest in the company which has struggled for many years. The company still has strength in the data center market but the PC space is facing a major challenge from the smartphones, the iPad and other tablets.

Dell tried to go upmarket with its Adamo line realizing Apple was a threat due in-part to its superior computer designs but the strategy fizzled. In the past, Dell also tried to come out with a device in the PDA space only to see the market erode as it launched because smartphones became more desirrable. It also launched a smartphone line hardly anyone knows about.

The Texas-based company also made a string of acquisitions from the cloud to consulting – but still Dell has struggled.

The answer it seems according to the board is to go private.

The question is why? If there hidden value in Dell? Perhaps the acquisitions could have been managed better? In that case, having Michael Dell at the helm – still, doesn’t seem to be a solution to the problem. Moreover, at least one respected analyst I spoke with at ITEXPO last week in Miami believes much of the value in the acquired companies has been destroyed by now – making this deal questionable.

This leaves us with the Microsoft connection. It seems Redmond is taking baby steps towards towards replicating Apple or what Google has done with Motorola Mobility. All of a sudden it seems software companies need more hardware. Witness yesterday’s acquisition of Acme Packet by Oracle.

In the end this deal only makes sense if Microsoft takes a bigger and bigger stake in Dell and tries to “re-Surface” the hardware maker with new and innovative designs.


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