Dell doesn’t plan on returning to the Android smartphone market any time soon, announcing that it will focus instead on creating Windows 8 touch-enabled computers and tablets.
The company’s VP of global operations, Jeff Clarke, spoke at the Dell World conference in Texas this week, saying the Android smartphone ecosystem needs a lot of investment in order to be really successful. With Android, Google and Amazon sell devices at no profit margin, or at a loss, only to make up for it in advertising or content revenues.
But purely as an Android manufacturer, with low margins on such devices, there wasn’t enough in the business for Dell it seems. Last year, Dell axed its Streak lineof Android devices in the U.S., though some versions of the devices were still available in Asia for a limited period after that.
“We've been really clear about smartphones – we're not going to do smartphones. We're not going to be in the smartphone hardware business,” Clarke said. “We're going to provide smartphone solutions, we're going to be the preferred BYOD provider of solutions in the marketplace.”
What the Windows 8 future holds
Windows 8 will instead be Dell’s focus, specifically for touch-enabled devices. “We believe Windows 8 brings a lot to the tablet market. It allows us to put tablets in the hands of our customers with a form and a set of management tools they are very used to using,” Clarke said.
In the current lineup, Dell has an XPS 12-inch convertible Ultrabook running Windows 8 that starts at $1,200, an XPS 10-inch tablet running Windows RT starting at $500 and a Latitude 10-inch tablet running Windows 8 Pro, starting at $650 after several savings.
Dell’s Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets are in line with Microsoft’s own line of Surface tablets, which have not been selling very well, according to analyst estimates. Microsoft is on track to sell some 500,000 Surface RT tablets in the December quarter, below expected sales of up to 3 million. Staples stores have started selling Surface tablets, a move that seems intended to boost sales figures for the device.
Dell is currently the number three PC manufacturer after HP and Lenovo, according to IDC figures, but the company’s shipment slipped 14 percent year on year. It’s revenues also dropped 11 percent year on year.