Dell Making 4-inch and 8-inch Devices, But Consumers Should Come Before Carriers

dellmidDell needs a hit, and the company is betting that it will come in the form of small screen devices. The question is whether it can make a smart phone or mobile Internet device you’d want to buy, not just one carriers might want to stock.

Yesterday Dell’s shares dropped 8 percent on the news that it saw more pressure on profit margins ahead. Recognizing that business customers will likely continue to keep those purse strings tight, Ron Garriques, president of Dell’s consumer business, said in a presentation to analysts that he saw an opportunity in “4-inch, 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch displays” that all worked together. Are we talking about the cloud? Some sort of sync software? Both? Dell already makes the 10-inch Inspiron Mini 10 and a 12-inch version–netbooks that have received lukewarm reviews from us–so the most intriguing part of the above statement are those 4- and 8-inch devices. Will the 4-incher be a phone or just a Wi-Fi-only gadget? Since Garriques went on to say that Dell would engage with the top mobile operators and “see what their needs are,” I’m inclined to believe it’s a phone. But that line of thinking makes me nervous. The reason the iPhone has been a smash hit is because Apple didn’t think about the carrier first; it made a device people wanted to use and carry and basically got AT&T to carry it nearly sight unseen. (Verizon apparently passed.) It’s true that Dell needs the major carriers more than they need them, but if the company merely delivers an empty vessel to pimp the mobile operators’ services, it won’t be a differentiated product. And rumors have been swirling since March that service providers rejected the Android and Windows Mobile smart phones Dell showed them because they were too dull. The 8-inch device could very well be a touch product, maybe one that’s optimized for Android or Windows 7. It could be sold through carriers, retailers, or both. And Dell already has a little touch experience under its belt with the Latitude XT Tablet and Dell Studio One desktop. However, the company hasn’t made a portable touch device for consumers since its Axim PDA (remember that?) What Garriques (which hails from Motorola) and his team need to prove is that they understand that smart software matters just as much as slick hardware, and that they can concoct a user interface on the order of HTC Sense or web OS. In other words, Dell needs to demonstrate that it can deliver a user experience that delights and surprises not only the carriers it’s attempting to court but consumers. It’s time to build on the Dell Dock and show us what you can do.

Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer on
Twitter Google+
Email* (will not be published)
*Indicates required field
Submit Comments

  1. chano Says:

    Simple really. Just a wholesale change of DNA.

All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options