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Friday, 05 July 2013 09:29

Dell admits slow tablet sales, mulls wearable tech

Written by Peter Scott

Something will work, eventually

Dell is trying to reinvent itself, but its foray into the tablet market might not be living up to expectations. In an interview with The Guardian, Sam Burd, Dell's global veep of personal computing, said the tablet market is not what it used to be.

He said devices and form factors will continue to evolve over the next five years, but there will still be a need for “static” desktop computing as well as mobiles. Curiously, Burd doesn’t seem to think much of tablets, at least not in the long term.
"I don't see any magic new form factor like the iPad – I don't think anybody saw how that was going to change devices. But the number of [computing] devices per person is exploding," he said.

Dell’s Windows tablets didn’t do well. Burd said that Dells sold hundreds of thousands of XPS-10 and Latitude 10 tablets, based on Windows RT and Windows 8. The numbers come as no surprise, as Microsoft didn’t do much better with its Surface tablets. However, Burd said Dell is excited by the ramp in purchasing expected from corporate consumers.

"Tablets really need Windows 8 to sell well. Still, it is encouraging to see some businesses deploying Windows 8 and tablets. It's going to take some time, and the jury is still out,” he said. “Maybe in a few years when we get to Windows 8 tablets being a third or 40% of tablet volume we can feel it's happening. Tablets are definitely an important piece of the computing business."

Burd’s statement doesn’t appear to leave much room for Windows RT, and the fledgling operating system seems to be losing vendor support faster than the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

He also pointed out that the PC market remains important for Dell and that the market will be “interesting” going forward. Perhaps he is right, a couple of years from now things could pick up, but we live in the present and in the present PCs are tanking. In addition to Windows tablets and PCs, Burd said Dell is “exploring ideas” in the wearable computing space. Dell might be working on a smart watch, along with Samsung, Apple, Foxconn and others.

However, unlike Samsung or Apple, Dell doesn’t have a mobile phone business, which comes in handy if you’re planning to introduce a smart watch. Dell euthanized its smartphone operation a couple of years ago, despite the fact that it pioneered the phablet form factor, which became a runaway success in the hands of Samsung and a handful of other Android phone makers.

Peter Scott

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