The New York Times reports on a recent memo sent by Michael Dell to Dell's 80,000 employees.
In the memo, Dell suggested that they would be restructuring beyond the "direct sales" model. From the article:
It is the first time that Mr. Dell or any other senior executive has publicly conceded that the business model that was crucial to the companys success could and should be altered. Until now, the company responded with an adamant no when Wall Street analysts or customers asked whether the company would consider other ways of selling.
This is a significant shift in strategy for Dell which was built on a low-overhead direct-sales model. In fact, Apple's own retail expansion in 2001 was seen as a risky move at the time:
...when Apple first launched its retail initiative amid a declining PC market and other failing electronics retailers, most notably Gateway's stores, it was viewed as a risky move.
Meanwhile, the tide has turned in the past 10 years, as many will remember that Michael Dell had said in 1997 when asked what could be done to fix Apple (who was losing marketshare and money at the time):
"What would I do? I'd shut [Apple] down and give the money back to the shareholders," Michael Dell said before a crowd of several thousand IT executives.