Exclusive: Dell plots late-2012 consumer tablet launch

Wed Jan 11, 2012 7:51am EST
 
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By Poornima Gupta

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Dell Inc intends to launch its first consumer tablet computer in late 2012, marking its entry into a hotly contested and increasingly crowded arena that has already claimed arch-foe Hewlett Packard.

The once-dominant corporation founded by Michael Dell has seen a growing crop of tablets and smartphones entice consumers away from PCs. But Dell learned from the hastiness of some of its peers and understands better now how consumers value the "ecosystem" of a tablet as much as the hardware, chief commercial officer Steve Felice said.

The Texas company, which has slipped steadily in the global PC sales rankings, had dipped its toe in the waters with an enterprise-focused, "Streak" tablet. It now plans a bigger push into the consumer arena, Felice told Reuters at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

While rivals from HP to Research in Motion introduced a spate of gadgets with much fanfare and went toe-to-toe with the still-dominant Apple Inc iPad, Dell kept a low profile with good reason, Felice said.

"We have been taking our time. The general failure of everyone that's tried to introduce a tablet outside of Apple" suggested Dell made a prudent choice, Felice said in an interview. "You will see us enter this market in a bigger way toward the end of the year. So we are not really deemphasizing it, 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," he added. "As we have matured in this, we are spending a lot more time in the overall ecosystem."

CARDS CLOSE TO VEST

Felice was coy about which non-Apple operating system Dell might adopt -- Microsoft Corp's upcoming Windows 8 or Google Inc's popular Android -- saying both were viable options.   Continued...