updated 11:10 am EDT, Thu October 13, 2011
Dell CEO downplays Google at own conference
Dell's founder Michael Dell used his own Dell World conference as an unusual platform for talking down Android while putting faith in Windows 8. While he pledged loyalty to Microsoft and said the company was "very aligned" with it, he said Google's OS had "not developed to the expectations" Dell had. Steve Felice, president of the consumer division, tried to minimize the company's lack of success, claiming that the Streak tablets, Aero, and Venue phones were shipped in small numbers to "see customer reaction and behavior."
To support his view, the CEO went on to make the paradoxical claim that his company's primary business, hardware, wasn't important. Dell provides enterprise-grade services but still makes much of its income on servers, desktops, and notebooks.
"Within the $3 trillion industry that we're in, the consumer business is worth $250 billion," he said. "Dell is much more focused on providing a complete set of solutions to customers, including the device, but we're not really focused on the device."
He did acknowledge that PCs were a "growth market" and important, but he portrayed it as a help to the services business, where it lowered the cost of hardware through scale. Smartphones and tablets were augmenting the PC, which wasn't "going away at all," according to Dell.
Although Dell has branched out with Android and Linux options, the company has remained one of the most loyal to Microsoft and the traditional PC model. Some have pointed to Dell's inability to get traction in mobile as more a virtue of sub-par hardware, such as the low-resolution screen and poor battery life of the Streak 7, as well as its tendency to ship with outdated Android builds and to unveil devices several months before they're genuinely ready, leaving them with outdated software and merely average hardware.
Windows 8 should help by giving Dell a truly touch-native interface that it can marry to tablets without having to relegate them to enterprise PCs or niche home PCs. The Texan firm has also shown signs that it's taking smartphones more seriously with the Streak Pro 101DL, a genuinely high-end phone that ships to Japan early next year and which might reach the US.
With Windows 8 not due until mid-2012 at the earliest, though, Dell currently sits in limbo and has been losing PC share to Apple, HP, and Lenovo.