Dell speaks out on infamous Apple quote

Dell CEO Michael Dell spoke at the Web 2.0 Summit, and he discussed his infamous quote regarding Apple. Back in 1997, Dell famously said that if he were put in charge of Apple, "I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." Nowadays, given all of Apple's success, it's easy to laugh at Dell's thinking. But Dell today says the quote "was misconstrued." In fact, he says, he was asked the same question a few times, and when he finally answered, it was from his point of view not as a potential Apple CEO, but as the head of Dell, which is where he says he belongs.

"The meaning of my answer was that I'm the CEO of Dell, I don't think about being the CEO of any other company, I'm not a CEO for hire, so if you asked me what I'd do for any other company, it's not really something I think about," he says today. Dell in fact says he has great respect for both Steve Jobs and Apple. "Obviously Steve will be missed and was a friend."

Well, OK then. That makes Mr. Dell sound pretty reasonable, actually. Of course, even if he was CEO of Dell and Apple, he'd still have been smart to keep the company going (and no matter what he says, Apple fans will probably always use his quote as an example of why you should never vote against this company), but sure, thinking of himself as head of Dell always, he'd have good reason to go ahead and shut the company from Cupertino down.