10 Things Dell Should Learn from Apple in the Smartphone Market

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-08-18

10 Things Dell Should Learn from Apple in the Smartphone Market

Dell has finally made its intention of releasing a smartphone to China official. The company announced Monday that it plans to bring smartphones to the Chinese market, although it didn't say when the phone will be released or whether or not it will bring it to the U.S. market.  

For now, Dell needs to focus on delivering a user experience that either rivals or competes closely with Apple's iPhone. Regardless of where it competes in the world, Dell needs to be constantly aware of how its devices stack up with the competition.

But before that happens, Dell needs to learn a lesson or two. Although it wants to forget it, Dell has already competed in the mobile space. Its old Dell Axim handhelds were discontinued after Dell realized that the same functionality could be built into a smartphone and, thus, the Axim held no value to the user. 

Now the question is whether or not Dell learned from those mistakes. Is it adequately prepared to take on major competitors in the marketplace? At this point, it's anyone's guess. But one thing is certain: It needs to watch Apple and what it has done before it can even think of being a success in the smartphone market.

1. App Store

Dell's smartphone needs a companion app store. The company has no choice but to create a marketplace for users to add more functionality to their phone. Apple has over 65,000 available applications. Dell needs to match that number as quickly as possible.

2. Design Matters

As sexy as Dell's Axim handhelds were, they would look like obsolete beasts in today's market. Dell needs to take design tips from Apple. Its smartphones need to be shiny, thin, sport a nice display and have smooth edges. They need to look like they belong in a user's hand.

3. A Touch-screen Is a Necessity

Although not all companies are jumping feet first into touch-screens, Dell must. At this point, it's practically a requirement in the marketplace. The iPhone, Palm Pre, Android-based phones, and even the BlackBerry Storm have touch-screens. A Dell smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard and no touch-screen will look out of place. 

Keeping the iPhone in Mind

4. Don't Forget the Enterprise

Dell's PC business caters to the enterprise. In fact, it's a key partner with many companies. Its smartphone must appeal to the enterprise market too. Dell needs tethering support, it needs Exchange, and it needs to have some enterprise-friendly applications. Without them, Dell would be leaving a key sector of the market out in the cold.

5. Remember the Extras

Before the iPhone 3G S hit store shelves, the iPhone lacked some of the basics, like copy and paste and video recording. Dell has to build those features into its own smartphone from the start. Without them, the Dell smartphone would be obsolete before it even hits store shelves.

6. Ease of Use Is Key

So many people are happy with their iPhones because it features a high degree of usability. Sifting through the menus takes no time. The touch-screen makes using the device quite convenient. Everything is a touch away. Dell's phone must follow suit.

7. Think Speed

When Apple announced the iPhone 3G S, it made it a point to remind users that the "S" stands for speed. It sped everything up on the new iPhone to make it more appealing to users who want to complete tasks as quickly and efficiently as possible. If the Dell smartphone's response time is slower, it will be a problem.

8. Remember the User

Apple's success is due to its understanding of who its customers are. Dell needs to determine who its customers are. Are they consumers looking for entertainment? Are they professionals looking for productivity? Dell needs to decide which sector (if not both) it wants to target and provide them with the necessities they require. Apple did. Look how well it worked for that company.

9. Think Like Apple

Dell also needs to remember Apple when it's building its smartphone. What is Apple not doing that it can? How can it improve upon the iPhone? Apple is a master at finding weaknesses in competing products and exploiting them. Dell should do the same.

10. Remember the Past

Dell failed to maintain the Axim because it didn't see the emerging trend until it was too late. It can't afford to make that same mistake this time around. Dell needs to consider the fact that touch-screens are important, an app store is a necessity, and Apple should be feared.

If it can realize those things, it can put itself in good position to compete in the market.

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