Feb 11

Again, Dell proves it isn’t Apple

Dell’s latest quarterly numbers are a beautiful synopsis of the company’s plight: income on business computers nicely up, income on consumer computers disturbingly down.

And bear in mind, this decline occurred during the holiday quarter — when visions of laptops and Streaks should have been dancing in consumers’ heads like sugar-plums.

Dell’s problem becomes more obvious with each passing year. They radiate “innovation envy,” but rarely innovate. They imagine themselves to be in Apple’s league, but demonstrate — product after product — why they are not.

A laptop that wasn't exactly laptop-friendly

Not that we need more proof, but consider Dell’s latest disappointment: the super-thin, and now super-dead, Adamo laptop.

Like most of Dell’s products, Adamo was less of an innovation, and more of a reaction to someone else’s innovation. (Zino — Mac mini, Streak — iPad, etc.) Adamo was Dell’s ode to MacBook Air. It didn’t exactly blaze new trails. It was created, Dell-style, to “cash in on that thin computer thing.”

Unfortunately, the cash didn’t quite materialize. With the high cost of miniaturization, Dell had to price their echo of an innovation at more than $2,000 — which is unsettling to a customer base trained over many years to expect value pricing.

Clearly, Dell wished to copy Apple’s success. Just as clearly, their own brand DNA made that impossible. Suffering poor sales, they tried to innovate their way to a turnaround by offering up the even thinner Adamo XPS — which was a bit of innovation gone amok. With its oddly hinged display, Adamo became the first laptop that was tough to use on a lap.

While Dell imagines itself to be an innovator in computers, it also imagines itself an innovator in marketing — with similarly unimpressive results. The marketing of Adamo fell somewhere between ill-conceived and laughable.

The ads here are representative of the overall Adamo campaign, which used ultra-fashiony, super-chic models to appeal to those interested in a razor-thin laptop. Never mind that half the ads didn’t even show the razor-thin part. Some future Mad Men-type show will have a field day with this one.

Given all of the above, it’s inaccurate to say that Dell killed Adamo last week. Looks like a suicide to me.

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  • BruceM

    I love how Dell thinks that “high fashion” shots will somehow confer that elusive Apple coolness on their products. First of all there is absolutely no connection between the exotic supermodels and the laptops they are awkwardly holding / fondling. And as a tech consumer, is it really a supermodel endorsement I am looking for? show me “real” people wearing real clothing, solving real problems. Dell — being “cool” is so much more than you can even imagine, and no it doesn’t involven saying the word “dude” either.

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