Dell released its Aero smartphone this week. The device retails for $99 with a two-year contract from AT&T. Its design looks quite similar to the Palm Pre. And as most might expect from the price tag, it's designed to be more of an entry-level product than a full-fledged competitor to Apple's iPhone.
The Aero's release comes on the heels of the hardware company offering the Android-based Dell Streak for tablet fans. The recent releases show that Dell is making a play for the mobile market with the help of Android OS. But it's too little, too late for the PC maker. And with such suspect decision-making, it's hard to see where the company can find a viable strategy going forward. Simply put, Dell's mobile strategy is failing. And not even Android can save it.
1. The wrong Android isn't any good
It's hard to feel sorry for Dell. The Aero runs Android 1.5, while its tablet, the Streak, runs Android 1.6. How Dell expects to be successful with devices that are running outdated software is anyone's guess. Currently, there are several devices available that run Android 2.2. The rest are almost all running Android 2.1. By offering a smartphone with Android 1.5 and a tablet with Android 1.6, it's becoming clearer by the minute that Dell just doesn't know what it's doing.
2. Dell's tablets are too small
When Dell announced the Streak, some wondered why the company would want to make a 5-inch tablet available to consumers. It's a sensible question that Dell, by releasing the device, has decided to ignore. The iPad boasts a 9.7-inch display, and for most folks, it works quite well. A 5-inch display doesn't offer the same level of usability. And that will not play into Dell's favor going forward.
3. A smartphone to be forgotten
As big of a mistake it was for Dell to offer Android 1.5 in the Aero, it was an even bigger mistake to release the smartphone in the first place. From a feature perspective, its 3.5-inch display, standard-definition video recording, and 5-megapixel camera makes it mediocre at best. Compare that to the Droid X's 4.3-inch display, 8-megapixel camera, and HD-video recording, and it becomes clear that, for most consumers, there are more viable alternatives available.
4. Design comes into play
Dell has had some trouble over the past few years delivering devices that offer worthwhile designs. The Aero and the Streak are further proof of that. As mentioned, the Aero looks like a Palm Pre wannabe. And the Streak is no way a good-looking device when compared to the iPad. Design matters to today's customers. But it seems that Dell has forgotten that.