Dell: Why We’re Ditching Smartphones

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Kirk Schell, VP of Dell’s client and consumer product group, tells us smartphones are not a priority

After much confusion and speculation, Dell has officially quit the smartphone game. It will not be making any more devices like the Venue Pro, or the Streak system, that was something of a mix between a smartphone and a tablet.

Explaining why the tech giant was quitting the handset business, Kirk Schell, vice president of Dell’s client and consumer product group, said it had to be very careful about its priorities.

“We have to be very disciplined with our priorities. For us, the focus has been on investing in tablets, the cloud, software, mobility services and our solutions business,” he said.

Dell, like most players in the smartphone market, has faced very intense competition in the industry. As Apple and Samsung have grown to gain a 90 per cent profit share of the market, others have faltered, most notably Nokia and RIM. Seeing those two industry giants suffer may have been the catalyst for Dell to get out while it could, although it won’t admit such a thing.

However, it doesn’t mean Dell is going to leave smartphones completely alone. The BYOD trend is important enough to keep it interested in the software side of things. In the future, Dell will be working on providing businesses with mobile management kit.

“We are looking at the mobility services and the mobility management part of our business. We still see opportunity there. We will continue to evaluate the hardware, but for now, that’s not part of the plan,” Schell told TechWeekEurope.

The vendor will continue to partner heavily with mobile device management (MDM) companies, and Schell did not rule out making an acquisition in the space.

This year, Dell has continued with an aggressive acquisition strategy, including purchases of SonicWALL and Wyse Technologies.

Tablet strategy

Dell is very keen on being one of the top Windows 8 tablet partners. Schell said the company was unphased by Microsoft’s announcement this week that it was going to produce its own Windows 8 tablet, and even hailed it as a positive thing for the Texan firm.

“It doesn’t in any way impact our partnership with Microsoft. We see them as continuing to be a partner and we will continue to deliver Windows 7 and 8 devices,” he added.

“Its good to let people start to create some pipeline for what will start happening at the back end of the year.”

Dell will make both consumer and business-focused Windows 8 tablets, Schell said, yet he would not say whether they would be based on chips by Intel, ARM, or both. He couldn’t say whether Dell’s tablet strategy was Windows-exclusive either. “We continue to evaluate multiple operating systems and multiple architecture,” he added.

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