Dell ponders entry into consumer tablet segment
Channel may see the launch of a new consumer tablet later this year
Dell may be plotting an entry into the consumer tablet space later this year, according to a report from Reuters that has surfaced from the Consumer Electronics Show.
In light of the tough competition from Apple and Google, however, Dell chief commercial offer Steve Felice said that, while the market may see the launch of a new Dell tablet in 2012, the company is doing its homework first.
The PC maker has already tried to gain traction in the tablet space through the launch of its enterprise-focused Streak 7-inch and Streak 5-inch Android-based tablets. The smaller Streak 5 was introduced in August 2010, while the Streak 7 hit the market in January 2011. Both devices, however, were ultimately pulled from the shelves last year, and Dell declined to comment on exactly why the devices were being discontinued.
Dell still offers its Windows-based Latitude ST tablet, but like the Streak series, the device has more of a corporate appeal.
While its entry into the corporate tablet space could be a possibility, the move will definitely be a cautious one, Felice said.
"We have been taking our time," he said, citing the general failure most non-Apple vendors have faced when entering the tablet market. "You will see us enter this market in a bigger way toward the end of the year. So we are not really de-emphasising it, we are really being very careful how we enter it."
Felice did emphasise, however, the importance of a robust app ecosystem when introducing a new mobile device within such an unforgiving market. "When you are talking about PC, people are more focused on the hardware itself," Felice added. "When you are talking about the tablet or the smartphone, people are interested in the overall environment it's operating in. As we have matured in this, we are spending a lot more time in the overall ecosystem."
Felice did not specify whether Google's Android or Microsoft's new Windows 8 OS would play host to Dell's ‘overall ecosystem,' the report said. The Dell spokesman noted that, while he likes the new touch interface of the upcoming Windows 8 release, the company hasn't aligned itself with any specific OS. At least not yet.
"We like Windows 8 but we continue to develop with Android as well," he said. "We are still going to be more choice-driven, based on the feedback we get from customers."