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Dell will ship iMac clone

Michael Dell chases Apple to pacify Wall Street

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Dell CEO Michael Dell has confirmed the company will offer a Wintel-based iMac clone. Speaking at a press conference organised to persuade the industry and Wall Street that his company's long run of major revenue growth was finally beginning to slow down, Dell said the machine would ship in the next 12-18 months. Interviewed earlier this year, Dell said the iMac had been a "wake-up call for the PC industry", a line he re-emphasised yesterday. Clearly the product is some way off, but such has been the perceived success of the iMac for Apple, saving the company from extinction, in many observers' eyes, it makes a lot of sense for Dell to use it as allay the fears of Wall Street. It sounds like the right thing to do, and that may well keep share traders happy. This isn't the first time Apple kit has been cloned (in the broadest sense of the term; clearly we're not talking MacOS-based Dells here -- though you never know; if it's offering Linux, why not an alternative desktop OS?). Apple's original PowerBook notebooks proved so popular, they were quickly emulated by Wintel portable vendors the world over. Even the Apple II casing was ripped off for a few early Far Eastern IBM PC compatibles. Apple's problem has been retaining the innovation lead. The second generation of PowerBooks weren't sufficiently far ahead of the new, PowerBook-aping competition to persuade buyers to stick with the more expensive Apple brand. If Dell moves down the iMac road, you can bet the likes of Gateway and Packard-Bell will follow, and that will be a major problem for Apple if it hasn't learned the PowerBook lesson. Fortunately, the company's rapid roll-out of faster, more colourful iMacs (see yesterday's story) suggests that maybe the company is determined not to make past mistakes, but the real test will come when the iDell ships. ®

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