updated 12:10 pm EDT, Mon April 25, 2011
Dell CEO admits not expecting tablet
Dell CEO and namesake Michael Dell in an interview Monday acknowledged that the iPad had caught him off guard. He was most surprised by the quick growth of the tablet and admitted he "didn't completely see that coming." Dell has been in the Windows Tablet PC market for years but had been immediately passed by Apple after the iPad outsold all Tablet PCs ever made in less than a year.
"Tablets aren't really new, in the sense that the tablet PC idea's been around for a while," he told the Wall Street Journal, later alluding to Apple and Samsung tablets. "Obviously, more recent products have been much more successful."
He didn't see Apple maintaining its lead in the tablet field. The iPhone was overtaken by an "even greater success" from Android. Google would repeat that success with tablets, he said, and Dell's Streak tablets would play a part.
"I think you'll see the same [overtaking of Apple] on tablets, with enormous numbers of Android tablets with Dell certainly playing a role in that as well," Dell said. "Not tomorrow. Not the next day. But again, if you look at 18 months ago, Android phones were like, 'What is that?' And now there are more Android phones than iPhones. I don't see any reason why the same won't occur with Android tablets."
The home side of Dell's business was a small part of its business and would still generate just a "modest profit" in 2011, but Dell wasn't due to back out. It wanted to participate in a number of markets where the home played a part.
Android's success outside of phones so far isn't guaranteed. iOS so far is maintaining a 59 percent lead when the iPad and iPod are included. The market for tablets is known to be very different than for phones with many buying their devices outside of carrier stores, without contracts. Apple has traditionally had a much wider retail distribution network and, unlike in smartphones, has often been more price competitive.
Dell has so far had relatively limited distribution of the Streak line and has never said how many it has shipped.