Dell will begin pre-sales of its Streak tablet PC on Aug. 12, the day before general availability. As the tablet PC market begins to heat up, in the wake of the Apple iPad's enormous success, Dell is likely hoping that the Streak's ability to Web-surf, display multimedia and make voice calls will distinguish it from both current and future competitors.
According to Dell, the Streak will retail for $299.99 with a two-year AT&T contract, and $549.99 unlocked. The device features a 5-inch touch screen, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, built-in WiFi capability and 3G connectivity, user-accessibly microSD expandable memory of up to 32GB and a 5-megapixel camera with dual LED flash. Turn-by-turn navigation and street views come courtesy of Google Maps.
The Streak will run a customized version of Google Android, with access to Android Marketplace and Dell-specific "interface enhancements," according to an Aug. 10 statement released by the company. The manufacturer is positioning the Streak as a mobile entertainment, navigation and social-connectivity device.
During a June interview with reporters, following his company's annual meeting with financial analysts, CEO Michael Dell suggested that the Streak's initial release in the United Kingdom had met with a largely positive response. However, he added, Dell's plans for the mobile space will focus not only on the devices, but also the back-end infrastructure needed to support the massive amounts of content piped to users on the move.
"There has to be servers and storage to support all the data that is being pulled by users," Dell said, "and this is an exciting opportunity for us."
The general consensus among tech analysts and pundits is that the tablet PC market will only increase in coming years. The vanguard product among consumer tablets, the Apple iPad, sold 3.27 million units in the third fiscal quarter of 2010, helping fuel Apple's total revenues of $15.7 billion and rivals' urge to deliver a suitable competitor to the market in short order. It is widely expected that Hewlett-Packard will issue a consumer tablet running its newly acquired Palm WebOS within the next few quarters; other manufacturers are reportedly considering either Windows 7 or Google Android for their own flat-screen offerings.
Tablets also have the potential to cannibalize the traditional laptop market. "If it turns out that the iPad cannibalizes PCs, that, I think, is fantastic for us because there is a lot of PCs to cannibalize," Apple COO Tim Cook suggested during a July 20 earnings call. "It's still a big market."
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has also made it clear his company plans to enter the tablet market in a big way.
"We have a lot of IP, we have a lot of good software in this area, we've done a lot of work on ink and touch and everything else-we have got to make things happen," he said during Microsoft's financial analyst meeting July 29. "Just like we had to make things happen on netbooks, we've got to make things happen with Windows 7 on slates."
In other words, Dell is entering a market that looks to become a lot more crowded.