GigaOM’s OM Malik talked with Michael Dell about the company a couple weeks back. Michael made some statements whose predictions at times were no easier than determining Nostradamus’ writings. Yet other websites interpreted it in saying that Dell is hinting on making a phone to rival iPhone. While it’s not an impossibility, will Dell get into the market or are they playing on the media to ilicit a response from the public?
GigaOM is a good quality site with great articles and fantastic interviews. Their About section says they apply a professional journalistic perspective, and I definitely see that. Their site is easy to navigate and their articles really make you think.
Of course, Michael Dell needs no introduction. A PC pioneer, Dell has paved the way for an affordable PC with support at the ready. Dell was responsible for toll-free technical support when others were making you pay to talk to someone past a 30 to 90 day period. They also showed us that “Direct from Dell” meant it. Everything that I have ever ordered from Dell has shown up within 48 hours – and it didn’t matter if I was buying it through a company or on my own.
So OM Malik caught up with Michael Dell couple weeks ago. They talked about Cloud Computing, where Dell is headed and of course, the big question: Is Dell looking at a Smartphone?
Michael started off by saying “Mobile Internet devices and smartphones are all part of our mobile computer business. Our focus is on the bull’s-eye of the volume, which today is notebooks, computers and laptops.” When OM asked the question about a plan for a smartphone, Michael Dell stated “We are certainly looking at the whole smartphone category, but I wouldn’t expect anything anytime soon.”
As Om Malik probed, he asked if Dell was going to side with Android or Symbian OS. He indicated that Dell could sway the standard with whomever they chose. Michael Dell came back with:”We’re not ready to publicly disclose our plans there…we’re kind of working on that.”
While a smartphone is a very good possibility, I see Michael Dell trying to view into the future. Is a smartphone the real answer, or is there something else that could be better and more useful to enter into the “$5 to $10 billion dollar scale opportunity” as he put it. And more importantly, why enter into a market filled with competition when you can pave the way with a new technology?
With Open Source licensing into play, everyone thinks cellphones are the next computer. Michael Dell said the smartphone was a compliment to a computer. “that kind of building block architecture gives us all sorts of opportunities”.
What if these items are integrated into other areas? For instance, USA Today reported in May that the National Center for Health Statistics said 1 out of 6 homes do not have a land line – and that is a growing statistic. In a more populated area like New York, land lines have dropped 55% since 2000.
Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP and now VoWiFi are a great alternatives to traditional land lines. A phone and the flexibility to take it with you at times. A company like MagicJack, for example, allows you to connect your phone to a computer from whatever internet connection you have and make a phone call – Yet it is not a cell phone.
Chumby is an internet appliance. It sits on your desk and connects to the internet wirelessly. Why couldn’t an appliance like that be loaded with software that could turn it into a fully functional phone? Maybe something that could sync with your cell phone and have a matching SIM card so when you are at the desk, you use the Chumby and when you are mobile, you use the… well… mobile.
So is Dell making a smartphone? It’s possible. The Axim can easily be retooled and given phone capabilities. But why make something that has already been done? Why not build a newer, better item that compliments the desktop or notebook and maybe even a smartphone? Innovation in a sleek looking case is what people want. To have the Dell name on it makes it all that much prettier.