Outlook: Compaq is in expansive mood

Successful companies, like successful individuals, need to have goals and ambitions to sustain them. As a result, Compaq's chief executive, the unpronounceable Eckhard Pfeiffer, some years ago set himself the challenge of becoming the world's number three computer company by the turn of the century. Given that Compaq was at that time some way down the hierarchy, that always seemed a bit of a tall order. But that was reckoning without that wonderful tool now available to all right thinking chief executives - industry consolidation.

Compaq first bought Tandem. Now its buying Digital, placing it at number two in the pecking order - two years ahead of schedule as well. Outstanding Mr Pfeiffer, absolutely outstanding. Oh, wait a minute. We get it. You thought Mr Pfeiffer meant that Compaq was going to get there all under its own steam? Silly. That's not how the successful global corporation is built these days. Actually, it's all about acquiring and closing down large parts of the competition.

So what's the next? Mr Pfeiffer was in expansive and ebullient mood yesterday. "We want to be the global PC provider feeding the entire spectrum right down to the end consumer." Mmmm. At least this has the merit of being meaningless, which is surely preferable to something like "number one by 2001". He would then have needed to bid for IBM and Hewlett Packard too.

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