updated 11:25 am EDT, Thu October 21, 2010
Dell in campaign to drop cheap image, hit Apple
Dell chief marketing officer Paul-Henri Ferrand today said his company was spending "hundreds of millions" on a marketing campaign to improve its image and better compete against Apple. He wanted to swing the company's focus away from price above all else and towards more upscale systems like the new XPS line. The executive added that it would come with a shift to mobile devices, with both the seven-inch Android tablet and the Inspiron Duo netbook/tablet hybrid due on Monday.
The Texas PC builder had once been synonymous with high-end Windows systems but over the past decade has become synonymous with budget systems and trimming costs at the expense of user experience. It was one of the first majors to outsource its support beyond North America and has put most of its attention on entry-level Inspiron systems. While it has helped Dell to near the top of world computer market share, it has also led to the company losing share in the US as Apple's focus on the high-end has given it an advantage, particularly in retail.
Dell's global consumer president Steve Felice also launched a preemptive strike in trying to defend his company's imminent seven-inch tablet launch just as Steve Jobs dismissed the entire size category. He was convinced that Dell's strategy of putting out as many models as possible would trump Apple's narrow focus and that Jobs was dictating successful design too soon.
"Apple is known for dictating what's going to happen in the market place and what a consumer should buy," Felice said. "We're at the opposite end of the spectrum, emphasizing customer choice. It's a bit premature to tell customers what they're going to like and what they don't like."
Dell so far has remained mum on sales numbers for the Streak, its five-inch Android tablet, and the Aero, its US adaptation of the Mini 3. Both are running year-old versions of Android and have typically had trouble competing in performance relative to the price. More hope has been placed in its first Windows Phone 7 device, the Venue Pro, which by definition has to use a minimum level of hardware and OS determined by Microsoft.