Dell has announced that it intends to get back in the tablet race this year. Speaking to Reuters, Dell’s chief commercial officer Steve Felice said that a new tablet product will arrive “toward the end of the year,” but was coy about whether or not it would run Android or Windows 8.
Tellingly, Felice spoke of the “general failure of everyone that’s tried to introduce a tablet outside of Apple,” and said that Dell was hard at work to create something aimed at mainstream consumers.
Learning from the experience with the Dell Streak 7, which is now being sold for peanuts, Felice said “we are really being very careful how we enter it. When you are talking about PC, people are more focused on the hardware itself. When you are talking about the tablet or the smartphone, people are interested in the overall environment its operating in.”
The emphasis this time round seems to be very much on the user experience or the ‘ecosystem’ as Felice puts it. “As we have matured in this, we are spending a lot more time in the overall ecosystem.”
No word on what software will be running under the hood. Felice said that “we like Windows 8 but we continue to develop with Android as well. We are still going to be more choice-driven, based on the feedback we get from customers.”
If Dell’s emphasis is on creating a new and unique ecosystem then it would suggest that it’s the more open and customisable Android. Amazon’s Kindle Fire, for all its technical limitations, has a fresh and different look about its interface that’s arguably as appealing as its low price.
Then again, Felice spoke of a desire to introduce something that’s more compatible with business environments as well, suggesting Windows 8 with its touted SkyDrive and Office integration.
“When we introduce the products, they will be consumer products, but we are going to make sure that they are very compatible with the business marketplace, which we don’t think Apple has addressed [with the iPad].” We’re inclined to agree with him – as much as we love the iPad it’s not always ideal for getting some work done.
Dell’s mystery tablet could then do for those working from home and students what the Kindle Fire did for fans of paperback fiction.