Dell seems to have halted sales of its Streak 7 tablet, possibly signaling the end of its Android tablet efforts. But the company will likely produce Windows 8 tablets.
Dell is discontinuing its Streak 7 tablet, a few months after killing the smaller Streak 5. Together, that means the end of the manufacturer's first foray into Android-based tablets.
"Streak 7 is no longer available online," read a new note on Dell's Website, "but you can browse our other mobile devices for similar products." Those include the Inspiron Duo Tablet PC, which transforms into a laptop with a swing of its hinge, and a collection of smartphones running Windows Phone and Android.
Dell's 5-inch Streak, released in the U.S. market in August 2010, wrestled in the gray area between the tablet and smartphone form factors. Dell hoped the device would appeal to an audience in the market for both types of device-the risk being that, in attempting to hit that sweet spot between the two, the Streak would end up an also-ran in both the tablet and smartphone categories.
The Streak 7, on the other hand, came down heavily on the side of full-sized tablets. It entered the tablet arena in February, at a time when rival manufacturers were placing big bets on the 7-inch size: Samsung had unveiled the original Galaxy Tab, and Research In Motion was prepping its PlayBook tablet for launch later that Spring.
Dell launched the Streak 7 with Android 2.2 (Froyo), originally developed for smartphones and their smaller screens. Almost immediately, it began promising an "over-the-air" software upgrade to the tablet-optimized Android 3.0 (Honeycomb). Hardware-wise, the Streak 7 offered 800-by-480 resolution, a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a dual-core 1GHz Nvidia Tegra processor.
However, like the other Android tablets entering the market then or since, neither version of the Streak managed to carve away substantial market share from the Apple iPad, whose blockbuster sales run has reinvigorated the previously-moribund consumer tablet industry. But neither did Dell invest the same manufacturing and promotional capital in its tablet efforts as, say, Hewlett-Packard with its doomed TouchPad; as a result, if the Streak didn't perform up to expectations, its anemic sales also didn't blow a money-spewing hole in the company's flank.
During an August call with analysts and journalists, Dell CEO Michael Dell said that "our early work on Windows 8 on the tablet side looks to be pretty encouraging." In light of that, it seems a sure bet that Dell's next big tablet foray will center on Windows 8, which Microsoft is designing with touch-screens in mind.
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Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.