The news is everywhere that Dell is in the process of either trying to or considering going private. Apparently, going private will let Dell refocus the company without having to also please investors. Normally, that’s a good idea even for public companies but, that’s another story. Dell has been in a funk. Some people may blame Apple or Android, or tablets in general, or whatever. But, the truth is companies usually shoot themselves in the foot.
Dell isn’t suffering because of the rise of tablets or other such devices Dell is suffering because of a failure to adapt via innovation. Without good innovation, great public relations is also difficult. Dell essentially let Apple and Android reposition them without addressing it. If they have a product that clearly differentiates them from Apple or Android – in a way that out-innovates them – I’ve sure not seen it. Innovation in tech isn’t always driven by better specifications. Innovation is more about specifications that meet a clear market desire. Sometimes the market desire is as big as the iPhone and sometimes it’s a small nice niche. In the case of Dell, it needed a banger to take on the iPad and Android tablets. It just hasn’t delivered.
It’s been rumored the Microsoft Surface was developed in part to send a message to OEMs to do something innovative. Still, not much exists out there. The goal of Dell should have been to take the Surface and out-innovate it. Instead, we’ve seen OEMs develop similar me-too devices to the Surface. More copycats. I’m no industry analyst, product designer, or whatever to tell you what this innovation should be. Dell should have the people to do that or it should be a master of convincing people that they want Dell. However, this also requires innovation and that’s just not there.
Maybe Dell laptops should have slide-out keyboards but still be as thin as a tablet. Maybe it should look at touch as old and move us all to holograms. Perhaps the innovation should be in the software. Maybe Dell should make a tablet or laptop that is always aware of me – where I am, if I’m working or playing, etc. – and adapt how I use it based on this awareness. I don’t know – like I said, there are experts to figure this out. But, I believe I do know that making the same old devices with a slightly different look isn’t cutting it.
Dell’s desktops and laptops are capable of getting decent media attention. But, being buried on page 8 by Apple and Android all the time is something Dell should focus on changing. Getting off page eight requires real innovation and good PR.
The company should seriously consider hanging its hat on a flagship product to be. Maybe it’s a new smartphone finally done right. Whatever it is, the design should change the market or, at least a niche area of a significant market. Dell’s recent all-in-one desktops look appealing. But, that’s just it. It’s only just “appealing” and not “compelling.” The product should remove “this can wait” responses to create “I want that now” responses. Dell’s products just aren’t doing that and as a result, PR efforts get limited to page eight. Thus, Dell hardly gets heard about until news of financial difficulties. Going private or not, changing consumer passion for Dell products is truly the only path back to success.