Mar 11

Dell: daydreaming of iPad’s failure

Never mind that Dell has been losing its luster for many consecutive years now. Its leadership retains the ability to see the world through Dell-colored glasses.

That is, they use the same reasoning that worked so well in the good old days — when Dell was leading the pack, instead of struggling not to fall farther behind.

Andy Lark, Dell’s global head of large enterprise marketing, recently made waves by predicting iPad will ultimately be overtaken by its competitors in big business.

To be fair, he is talking about the enterprise world, not the consumer marketplace, where the rules are different. Unfortunately, iPad is proving that the rules aren’t quite as different as he wishes.

Think what you will of his conclusion. I was more aghast at the reasoning he used to arrive there:

[Apple has] done a really nice job [with iPad], they’ve got a great product, but the challenge they’ve got is that already Android is outpacing them.
I must have woken up in the wrong dimension today. I could have sworn iPad had 80-90% of the market and Android tablets had barely begun to ship.

Apple is great if you’ve got a lot of money and live on an island…
As everyone knows, the “Apple is too expensive” argument went out the window with iPad. No competitor has figured out how to significantly undercut iPad’s price. Andy might want to look at the pricing of Dell’s own 7-inch Streak tablet. Significantly smaller than iPad, it sells for $449 without contract vs. iPad’s $499.

…It’s not so great if you have to exist in a diverse, open, connected enterprise; simple things become quite complex.
It is also widely reported that iPad is finding lots of friends in the enterprise world. Three reasons: it simplifies things for a great many people, it is successfully being integrated into corporate networks, and while IT departments used to be free to maintain their decades-old allegiances, today they’re being pushed to give people what they want. What people want now are iPads — right up to the executive suite.

We’ve taken a very considered approach to tablets…
Dell’s “considered” approach to tablets is frighteningly similar to their considered approach to PCs and laptops. They wait until someone else lights the way (normally Apple), then try to copy the other guy’s success at a lower price point — sacrificing quality along the way.

…given that the vast majority of our business isn’t in the consumer space.
Basically, Andy clings to the same hope that RIM does with BlackBerry: “We have a huge audience in business, therefore we will win by being business-oriented.” Good luck to both of them. The flaw in their theory is that most business users are consumers too, and all users are human beings. People want devices that give them the best experience, period — for business and personal use.

An iPad with a keyboard, a mouse and a case [means] you’ll be at $1500 or $1600; that’s double of what you’re paying. That’s not feasible.”
What’s not feasible is Andy’s math. 32GB 3G iPad: $729. Keyboard: $69. Mouse: $69. Fancy case: $100. Total: $967. And — only in Dell’s world would we be talking about tablets that require keyboards and mice. The whole point of iPad is that it lets people accomplish things without a keyboard and mouse. Those who find those things essential are better off with a laptop.

When Andy thinks about winning in the enterprise, I’m sure he means selling more devices. Which, again, is a very Dell-like argument. Dell already sells far more computers and laptops than Apple, yet they make only a fraction of Apple’s profit. This is why Apple’s market capitalization is now over ten times that of Dell.

You can be sure that everyone at Apple hopes Dell continues to “win” like this for years to come.

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  • neilw


    “I am high as a kite.”

    I think that’s my new favorite meme, seems to be highly applicable to almost all commentary from competitors about Apple products these days. It’s been raining stupid lately.

    The fact that Lark even mentions a mouse shows that he has no idea what he’s talking about, never mind the completely bonkers math.

  • stefn

    Obviously Lark has been drinking his own flop sweat.

  • stefn

    Apple innovates. Apple integrates. Only Apple does both. What do they pay these other people for?

  • Bladrnr

    Is this the world we live in, where an executive at a major corporation has nothing to say but belittle a successful competitor and make up statistics in order to try to sway public opinion? He isn’t convincing anyone that Dell or HP or MSFT can beat Apple when they can’t even launch a product that is making any kind of money right now and has nothing of an ecosystem to support it.

    Once again, Apple brings the product to market and shows everyone how it’s done. Mac, iPod, iPhone and now iPad. Go ahead, Mr. Lark. See where Dell is in five years when it comes to tablets. There is no way you will win this game. Apple has economies of scale, cash, the UI, tight SW/HW integration that you could only dream of, and a highly profitable and successful ecosystem supported by real stores people love to visit (and they actually wait in line to buy their products). Keep dreaming.

  • Bmcfadden

    Dell should just shut down the company, and give the money to its shareholders.

  • qka

    It is my understanding that an iPad cannot even use a mouse.

    A further savings.

  • bmovie

    “Dude. You’re not getting a Dell!”

  • Bill Burkholder

    Lark and Dell are “winning” like Charlie Sheen is “winning”.

    What a load of crap. I have a bunch of Dell PCs at work. They all suck out loud by comparison with my Mac. Cheap is cheap, in every sense of the word.

    Apple is all about user experience and user satisfaction. Corporate IT will never get that, because they don’t want their users to be independent. If that were to happen, they would lose their jobs…