Dell Exec: PCs, Workstations Are Key to Enterprise Push
When Dell announced its financial earnings in August 2013, before it went private, the company's End User Computing unit saw a slight bump in revenues for desktops and thin clients, but a decline in mobility sales. The company over the past year has worked to establish its commercial products "around our built-for-business platform, and built for business to us means the most secure, the most manageable, the most reliable notebooks, desktops and workstations," Clarke said. During the Dell event, he and Pat Kannar, product marketing director of Dell Precision workstations, spoke about the effort behind differentiating Dell's client offerings from those of rivals Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard, saying it’s a combination of the hardware, Dell's own software capabilities around management and security— such as Reliable Memory Technology for improved uptime, Dell Precision Performance Optimizer for greater application performance and CAS-W for caching—and the work it's doing with software partners to optimize the hardware for their applications. Ed Caracappa, director of global sales and business development at Advanced Micro Devices, told eWEEK he has seen Dell over the last two years become more focused on the user and enabling the applications they're running on the workstations, a move that has helped the tech giant in the market and made it easier for companies like AMD to work with it."[Dell is] trying to bridge that gap between individuals who [go for] affordability and choose to buy a traditional system like a Latitude or a consumer system," Kannar said. "It's a great opportunity for us now to grow that market rather than just relying on its own organic growth." It also helps that Apple, whose computers have been a favorite of creative users, is turning more of its attention to the mobile space, he said. Among those attending the Dell event were some "switchers"—users that went from Apple systems to Dell workstations. "Fortunately for us, Apple is growing in a different direction … where they're not necessarily taking those [creative] professionals as seriously as they have in the past, which creates a beautiful opportunity for us," Kannar said. Roger Kay, principal analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, said he understands to some extent Dell's reasoning for keeping some of the PC business—for example, having such a large business helps keep component prices down, which helps it compete with the likes of Lenovo. However, Kay said Dell should consider doing something more to lessen its exposure to the fickle PC market, like ridding itself of the consumer line. Enterprise PCs still offer OEMs big volumes and steady profit margins. "The thing I detect is that … it's a little more personal and a little less rational," he told eWEEK. "I think it's just that Michael Dell likes PCs. It's what he grew up on."
Dell also is trying to make it less expensive for businesses to embrace workstations, Dell's Kannar said. Many organizations opt for less-expensive, high-end PCs to run their compute-intensive applications rather than make the financial leap to workstations, which tend to offer faster server processors and better graphics capabilities. Dell's new Precision M2800 comes with a starting price of $1,199, closing the price gap between entry-level workstations and high-end PCs and hopefully expanding the customer base for workstations.