updated 07:50 am EDT, Tue November 2, 2010
Dell: tablets big in 2011, WP7 easier than Android
Michael Dell today told those at a Hong Kong gathering that his company would have a "significant number of new tablets" in 2011. He stopped short of detailing the plans but characterized his firm as experimenting with what would work. The executive wasn't certain the iPad had established a full market and didn't want to commit to a particular formula for his launch plans.
"There's lots of debate about the size of the market, who's buying these devices, and those questions always emerge when there's a new form factor," he said.
Dell so far is only selling the five-inch Streak, which it has characterized as a crossover between a tablet and a phone, but plans to launch its seven-inch Looking Glass tablet in the near future and its 10-inch variant within the next several months. With the exception of its Inspiron Duo convertible Windows 7 netbook, all of the tablet designs will run customized versions of Android.
The Streak had been in development before the iPad was announced but is widely thought to have been followed by a slew of newer models after Dell was caught off-guard by Apple's approach, which focused on a much larger design that takes advantage of the extra screen area. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been highly critical of small tablets as he has felt that they have a negligible advantage over a smartphone or a media player. He also felt that companies like Dell, which got into Android tablets early, were going against Google's own advice and producing devices that weren't optimized for the extra screen area.
Dell indirectly agreed and noted that many of the developers reporting back on its early devices, including the Aero smartphone, weren't as happy developing for Android. Supporting Windows Phone 7 devices like the Venue Pro was easier, the company founder said. Android is partly open-source but requires more direct experience in Linux where WP7 can use some of Microsoft's existing Windows development tools and has visual design tools to simplify constructing the core interface for a given app.