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6/10/2011
01:52 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Dell Launching 10-Inch Android Tablet In China

U.S. and European tablet buyers will have to wait. Is this a subtle Dell statement on the state of the Android app market?

Dell's 10-inch Android tablet, dubbed the Streak 10 Pro, will hit the Chinese market later this summer. The tablet will hit other markets in the second half of the year, but Dell hasn't specified which markets those will be. (Wait until you read the explanation below.) The device will be aimed at prosumers, according to Dell.

Dell is targeting a late-in-the-year launch for a Windows 7-based tablet. Dell provided almost no details about this tablet, only saying it will be targeted at business and enterprise users.

Dell took to its blog to explain the decision to launch in China first, and other markets later.

"Well it's simple," explained Amit Midha, Dell's President of Greater China and South Asia. "The next one billion people to come onto the Internet will be from emerging countries, with the majority from the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China). These countries present tremendous growth and opportunity to Dell as a company."

No doubt. According to Midha, these growth markets were responsible for 27% of Dell's revenue for the first quarter of the year. In particular, Dell's business in China saw a 22% increase in revenues during the same period.

"We're confident the new Streak 10 Pro will help them achieve their professional goals," argued Midha. "In addition, we have a significant--and rapidly growing--retail presence in China, with more than 10,000 locations where customers can buy Dell products throughout the region."

For Dell to launch a device in China is not a big deal. So why, then, did Dell take the time to explain why the device is launching in China first and not the U.S. or Europe?

Midha explains, "In each market where we do business, we want to deliver a product when we're ready to offer a complete suite of productivity and security services and applications to complement the hardware. Our goal is to provide the complete experience that our customers expect from us.

"In China, access to Google applications and the Android Market is not available today in many cases. Therefore, the end product (encompassing the hardware, software, and availability of applications, services, and solutions) delivered in China will be significantly different to what would be delivered in many other countries. That's why it makes sense to start there. We will use what we learn in China to shape mobile products we'll offer in other places down the road."

But wait, didn't Midha just say that it wants to launch products only when and where the experience will be complete? If China doesn't have access to the Android Market in the same way it is available in the U.S., what is Dell going to do to "complete" the experience for Chinese users of the Streak 10 Pro? It would have to develop a ton of its own software for the device rather than rely on third-party developers. This argument makes no sense.

It's Midha's last comment, however, with which I have to take exception. He writes, "Offering an Android 10-inch tablet in [Europe and the U.S.] at a later date allows developers more time to create robust apps, particularly for mobile professionals. It also allows more time for companies developing services and solutions to optimize their product for Android."

Not only did Midha negate his earlier argument, Dell is quite openly faulting the Android Market for its lack of applications customized for Android tablets. In effect, Dell is saying that the Android Market and apps aren't quite there yet, so it is going to wait to see how things unfold before it offers this product to the big boys.

One has to wonder how Motorola, HTC, LG, and Samsung--all of which have already brought Android-based tablets to the U.S. market--feel about this.

Employees have more ways to communicate than ever, but until the mishmash of tools gets integrated, productivity will suffer. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek: A buyer's guide to enterprise social networking. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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