Even Android Can't Fix Dell's Failing Mobile Strategy: 10 Reasons Why

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-08-25

Even Android Can't Fix Dell's Failing Mobile Strategy: 10 Reasons Why

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 How Dell expects to be successful with devices that are running outdated software is anyone's guess.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. 

Dell's Mobile Products Fail to Excite Buyers


5. Where is the value proposition?  

With every product Dell sells, the company needs to make a clear value proposition. But with the Aero and Streak, it hasn't. In fact, it has failed at showing why a consumer should want one of its products over another. The tech space is crowded, and the company with the best product typically wins. Dell should know that by now. But the Aero and Streak prove that it doesn't. 

6. AT&T isn't helping matters

One of the biggest issues with the Aero is that it's available exclusively to AT&T. AT&T is also the exclusive home of the iPhone. And if folks don't want to pay the $199 for an iPhone 4, they can pick up an iPhone 3GS for $99 -- the same price as the Aero. There is no reason for anyone to choose the Aero over the iPhone. And Dell, by making its device available to AT&T customers, will soon find that out. 

7. The enterprise is left out 

Dell has seemingly forgotten the enterprise with its mobile strategy. The company's tablet will in no way appeal to firms that are looking to get their hands on productive devices, like the iPad or the upcoming Cisco Cius. Plus, the Aero smartphone can't compete with a BlackBerry. Dell forgot the enterprise in its mobile strategy. And over the coming years, it will learn quickly that that was a major mistake. 

8. Consumers don't understand Dell 

When a consumer goes to an AT&T store or browses Dell's tablet online, they will undoubtedly be confused. They won't understand why the smartphone lacks the features they want. They won't get why the tablet is so small and so unappealing. Today's consumers expect several features in their mobile products, including an outstanding operating system and thoughtful design. Dell isn't providing that. And consumers won't respond well to it. 

9. The pedigree isn't ideal 

It's hard to criticize Dell for its mobile issues without evaluating its history. In the past, Dell's attempts to break into the mobile market have failed miserably. The Axim handhelds were supposed to be the products that would help Dell take on HP's iPaq. But all they did was gather dust on store shelves. Dell has a proven history of not being able to appeal to mobile users. Why would anyone think that would change now? 

10. Where is the hype? 

Apple is as successful as it is because it can build hype for its products. When it announces a new device, the media jumps on it, and just about everyone hears about it within minutes of Steve Jobs' announcement. Dell, on the other hand, seemingly has no clue how to build hype for its products. When the Streak was released, few paid attention. Now that the Aero is out, the vast majority of consumers probably have no idea. Hype sells products. But Dell doesn't seem to get that. 

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