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Sat, Sep 09, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Dell founder talks up firm's push into video games

COMEBACK BID Amid fiscal woes, fierce competition from Hewlett-Packard and a recent recall of flawed laptop batteries, Michael Dell is trying to focus on the positives


A month after being hit by a massive battery recall, Dell Inc founder and chairman Michael Dell emphasized the company's -- and his own -- forays into video games.

"The truth is, I don't have as much time to play as I probably would like to," Dell, one of the few dressed in a suit, told a packed crowd at the Austin Game Conference.

Dell's remarks came in what was billed as a "fireside chat" discussion on the show floor of the annual trade show.

This year's event, at the Austin Convention Center, drew more than 2,000 attendees.

Dell did not address the company's ongoing woes, and audience members who took part in a question-and-answer session seemed more interested in future product upgrades and features than fiscal issues.

Dell has been rattled in recent months as it deals with fierce competition from rivals such as Hewlett-Packard Co. Dell saw revenue plummet 51 percent in its most recent earnings report last month.

Dell also issued a voluntary recall of 4.1 million faulty laptop batteries made by Sony Corp and acknowledged it was being investigated for unspecified accounting issues by the Securities and Exchange Commission last month.

On the hardware front, Dell said he favored Blu-ray over rival format HD-DVD for next-generation optical disk drives but did not see either platform making much headway anytime soon.

"We think that the content is really going to drive it," he said.

He also touted the company's ongoing push to deliver the latest technology to its customers, from its XPS line of pricey computers to its acquisition earlier this year of boutique game computer maker Alienware Corp.

Also this year, Dell changed its long-standing stance on using only processors from Intel Corp and has begun offering chips from Advanced Micro Devices Inc on certain servers and desktop PCs.

"We've seen that, particularly with online gaming, the high end of the gaming market really is a great way to take advantage of a lot of features and performance that are evolving in the modern PC," he said.

He added that Dell has no plans to enter the console market, which is currently dominated by Microsoft Corp, Nintendo Co and Sony.

"In principle we could do it, but we think we're far better off putting all our energies behind one gaming platform than two gaming platforms," he said.

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