Apple\'s Jobs says Michael Dell should eat his own words

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It may not be the last laugh, but on Friday afternoon, after the close of the stock market, Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple Computer, shared an e-mail chuckle with his employees at the expense of Dell, a big rival, reports the New York Times.

The message was prompted by the 12 percent surge in Apple\'s stock price last week, which pushed the company\'s market capitalization to $72.13 billion, passing Dell\'s value of $71.97 billion.

Shortly after Mr. Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 as part of the company\'s acquisition of NeXT, Dell\'s founder and chairman, Michael Dell, was asked at a technology conference what might be done to fix Apple, then deeply troubled financially.

\"What would I do?\" Mr. Dell said to an audience of several thousand information technology managers. \"I\'d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.\"

On Friday, apparently savoring the moment, Mr. Jobs sent a brief e-mail message to Apple employees, which read: \"Team, it turned out that Michael Dell wasn\'t perfect at predicting the future. Based on today\'s stock market close, Apple is worth more than Dell. Stocks go up and down, and things may be different tomorrow, but I thought it was worth a moment of reflection today. Steve.\"

Since his comments in 1997, Mr. Dell appears to have softened his views on Apple, notes the Times. In June Mr. Dell conceded that if Apple were to open the Mac OS to other PC manufacturers, he would be happy to offer the operating system to Dell customers.

Still, Mr. Dell could end up with the last laugh. According to the Times, Mr. Dell\'s personal wealth still exceeds that of Mr. Jobs, despite the fact that Mr. Jobs also has a 50.1 percent share in Pixar Animation Studios that is worth about $3.4 billion.

\"Last year Mr. Dell, who founded his namesake company as a college student in 1984, was ranked fourth on Forbes magazine\'s list of the 400 wealthiest people in the United States,\" said the Times. \"It estimated his personal wealth at $14.2 billion.\"