It is ironic that both Dell and Apple shared big news last week.
Back in 1998 Michael Dell, then the crown prince of the personal computer industry, recommended that Steve Jobs shut down Apple, which was in dire shape, and distribute the proceeds to shareholders. By contrast, reflecting the turmoil now afflicting all PC makers, Mr Dell is negotiating to borrow money to make his company disappear from public view. Apple, meanwhile, announced that its shareholders would receive a Valentine’s day dividend of $2.5bn – a tiny portion of its $137bn cash pile.
But Apple earnings announced on Wednesday, and the subsequent fall in the value of its stock, grabbed more headlines than Dell’s prospective leveraged buyout. Moments after the financial figures were released, which showed a slowing growth rate, soothsayers took their gloomy predictions to the Twittergraph. The hordes who bought Apple stock in the past few years stampeded for the exits.