News Analysis: Dell plans to release its 5-inch tablet, the Streak, in June. But as the company prepares for that launch, consumers might quickly find that the device just doesn't boast the features that would make it a viable iPad alternative.
Dell announced recently that it plans to release the Streak tablet
later in 2010. The device, which is designed to compete with Apple's iPad, will run Google's Android operating system and will hit store shelves in June in the United Kingdom, and later in summer in the United States.
Although the device will run 3G, Dell did not say which carrier it will partner with. It also failed to mention how much the device will cost. But it has revealed most of the device's other details, including a 5-megapixel camera and a front-facing camera for those who want to enjoy video chats.
But there are so many holes in the Streak's feature lineup that some might wonder why Dell is even attempting to release the tablet. Although it might appeal to some who love Android, it will likely fall flat when compared with the iPad.
That's not a good thing for Dell. The company is trying desperately to break into what could become the next big frontier in computing, and offering a subpar alternative to the iPad just isn't the best move. That doesn't necessarily mean that the Streak doesn't have promise. But it does mean that Dell will need to do quite a bit to make the Streak match the iPad in the marketplace. Here's why:
1. Say hello to a 5-inch screen
Apple's iPad boasts a 9.7-inch display. Although that might seem small to some who are used to larger screens, it actually works quite well for a tablet. That said, most wouldn't want to see the screen get any smaller. Unfortunately, the Dell Streak has a smaller display. According to Dell, the device will come with a 5-inch WVGA screen. In other words, it's going to be tough to do anything on the device, let alone watch movies or television shows. Unfortunately, a 5-inch Streak seems more like a UMPC (Ultra Mobile Personal Computer) than a tablet. And that could come back to hurt the company.
2. It runs Android
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Google's Android operating system. The iPhone OS competitor is quickly becoming a popular alternative to Apple's software, and developers are rapidly expanding their support for the platform. But that doesn't mean that it's equal to what's running on the iPad. iPhone OS is still the leader in the market. It's also the standard by which all other touch-capable operating systems are judged. When average consumers think about tablets, they think about the iPad and iPhone OS.
They're not gravitating to Android OS.
3. Dell isn't Apple
Sorry, but Dell just isn't Apple. The company may be the world's third-largest PC vendor and a household name, but it isn't held in the same regard as Apple. When consumers consider mobile products that go beyond simple computing, they rarely spend time thinking about Dell. Instead, they think about Apple and why that company has done a better job than anyone else of delivering devices that consumers want to use. Dell looks like it's trying to catch up to the iPad with the Streak. In no way is it trying to do something unique. That's a problem for Dell, and it won't get any better until it starts beating Apple at its own game.
4. The Streak won't come with Android 2.2 out of the box
According to Dell, the Streak will launch with Android 1.6 when it's made available, and will get the Android 2.2 update that Google recently announced once that's available. That means the Streak won't have Flash compatibility out of the box. And it also won't have all the extra bells and whistles that make Android 2.2 so compelling. It's entirely possible that consumers will view the Streak as the hobbled alternative to both the iPhone and Android alternatives. That's never a good thing.