Wearable computing is among the growth areas Dell is looking into as the PC market continues to cede ground to portable devices, according to an executive
“We’re exploring ideas in that space,” said Sam Burd, Dell’s global vice-president of personal computing, in an interview with the Guardian. “Having a watch on your wrist – that’s pretty interesting, pretty appealing.”
Change in direction
Dell is currently attempting to go private via a $24bn (£16bn) leveraged buyout so that the company can be more easily revamped around enterprise IT solutions and services.
However, Burd said wearable computing is also on Dell’s radar as the number of devices per person grows.
“There are challenges in cost, and how to make it a really good experience,” Burd said. “But the piece that’s interesting is that computers are getting smaller.”
As the PC fades in importance, no single alternative device is coming to take its place, according to Burd. Instead, he said Dell sees a growing diversity in computing devices, including gadgets such as Google Glass and “smart watches”.
“We’re looking at a world of lots of connected devices,” Burd said. “I don’t see any magic new form factor like the iPad – I don’t think anybody saw how that was going to change devices. But the number of devices per person is exploding.”
Pebble is currently selling a Bluetooth-connected smart watch, Samsung has confirmed it is working on a watch and Apple is rumoured to be planning an iWatch. Nike sells a wrist-worn device called the Nike+ FuelBand that allows users to track physical activities such as steps taken and calories burned.
Dell’s track record with mobile devices so far is mixed, with the company having abandoned a range of Android-powered mobile phones that included the Streak, which used a form factor later exploited with more success by Samsung with the Galaxy Note.
Sales of Dell’s Windows-powered XPS-10 and Latitude 10 tablets have been only in the “hundreds of thousands”, said Burd, a fact he said is due to the fact that large companies are slow to adopt new operating systems. “Tablets really need Windows 8 to sell well,” he said.
Burd emphasised that Dell is not planning to abandon the PC.
“The PC business is important to us,” he said. “It’s how we started as a company, and where we have strong share globally. Lots has been written about the demise of the PC business, we we think it’s an interesting area going forward.”
In May Dell delivered a dismal set of financial results, including a drop in profitability following drastic PC price-cutting measures.
Meanwhile, the company remains locked in a battle with shareholders over its buyout plan. On Friday Dell’s shares dropped by more than 3 percent as investors grew sceptical that Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners would raise their buyout bid in order to overcome growing opposition.
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