This is startling: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Dell is trying to sell at least some of its factories to contract manufacturers–and maybe all of ’em. For any other computer company, the news would not be all that striking; these days, such a high percentage of electronics manufacturing is done by third parties that it’s more noteworthy when a computer manufacturer is actually…well, a computer manufacturer.
But this is Dell we’re talking about–the company that’s been, at its high points, the biggest computer on the planet based on the excellence of its factories and the efficiency of its direct-to-customer model. For more than twenty years, it’s obsessively refined its manufacturing and logistics processes to build PCs as efficiently and cheaply as possible. It is, in other words, a control freak of a company; it’s hard to imagine it letting go of the very process of making Dell PCs.