January 13, 2013, 7:32 AM — One of the more interesting announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show last week was Dell's Project Ophelia, a key fob sized PC from the Wyse acquisition that should change both what thin clients are and where they will be used.
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However, Project Ophelia also showcased something Dell does better than anyone else at the moment: acquisitions.
Nondisruptive Acquisitions: Wyse Succeeds, Palm Fails
The worst acquisition of the last decade had to be Hewlett-Packard's acquisition of Palm. After a $1.2 billion purchase of what was at time one of the few companies capable of challenging Apple-that is, with the potential to become a $200 billion company-HP did what Apple couldn't do and destroyed Palm.
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In contrast, when Dell bought Wyse a few months ago, it had no impact on Wyse's ability to introduce new products. In fact, Wyse has been enhanced through access to Dell's logistics and sales channels. In short, a company that cost far less than Palm and had far less ultimate potential is worth more today than Palm because HP and Dell use very different acquisition processes.
Any executive who doesn't study Dell, and instead uses the more common, far less successful acquisition strategy, shouldn't be an executive. (Consistent with this conclusion is the fact that the Palm acquisition, in part, cost former HP CEO Mark Hurd his job.)
A theory called confirmation bias argues that people really see only things that agree with the positions they have already taken. This helps explain why more companies aren't emulating Dell. Given how many jobs and careers are at risk, I hope executives will begin to change their ways this year.
Project Ophelia: An Enterprise Pocket PC for the 2010s