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Unfortunately, Dell Is Staying the Course


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Michael Dell scored a victory to take Dell (DELL) private at a shareholder-approved price of $25 billion, so the company will soon to fade out of the spotlight.

The company, credited with perfecting the "built-to-order" personal computer business, will look for its "second act" in order to re-emerge as a legitimate tech power. But anyone believing Dell has learned anything over the past five years is sure to be disappointed.

Now, I do know it's not that uncommon for once-dominant tech companies to fail and then resuscitate themselves for a second chance at growth. Take, for instance, Apple (AAPL), which was struggling to survive in a PC-dominated world led by Microsoft (MSFT). Today, Apple is the largest technology company in the world.

However, unlike Apple, which executed its recovery by shedding unprofitable businesses and entering new markets, Michael Dell seems convinced the company's current plan, which has never worked, is still the best course to take.

Last week, while discussing the company's future in an appearance on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street," an excited Michael Dell stated, "We're really focused on our customers and building out end-to-end solutions."

Pardon my pessimism, but this is precisely the jargon that's been used in every Dell conference call over the past five years.

Among his five "strategic areas of focus," Michael Dell listed not only "enhancements in enterprise solutions" but plans to double down on the company's investments. What this means is Dell the company has every intention of throwing more good money after bad -- something that it has done consistently under Michael Dell.

Trying to "buy growth" with untimely acquisitions like Quest Software and SonicWall is precisely what has gotten the company into this mess. Not only have these acquisitions failed, but they focus on an eroding enterprise ideology instead of a growing mobile business. This speaks to the stubborn nature of management.

With no organic growth to speak of, the company needs to think differently. With Michael Dell declaring his company has no interest in the mobile phone business, I don't see how this company can be taken seriously as a worthwhile turnaround candidate. It's true that entering mobile phones would place Dell in the unenviable position of having to compete with both Apple and Google (GOOG). On some levels, this recognition deserves credit, as cowardly as it may be.

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