Dell is undertaking an image makeover as it moves into the CE market and tries to compete with Apple. Out is the dull colours in is Apple colours black, silver and white.
Dell has an image problem. It’s got a world-class logistics set-up, it’s still shipping more PCs than anyone else. But what’s really bugging it is that it’s not Apple. At the same time Apple who next year move to an Intel platform is confident that it can take market share away from Dell. While some analysts say that Dell has peaked as they have hit the financial doldrums recently others say they have to be “more with it” if they are to compete with Apple.
In the US, Dell’s been placing an ad in various hip journals showing its new portable music player emblazoned with jewels and with the word ‘style’ next to it in unmissably big letters. Decades of standard beige casings came to an end recently when the vendor’s XPS model was made available in silver and black. Clearly Dell is chasing the consumer dollar, which currently only accounts for 15% of its turnover. And if you want consumers buying your gear, then Apple’s your benchmark. There’s nothing cooler than Apple on the high street.
But trying to turn something familiar and dependable into something cool is always going to risk ridiculousness. It’s like putting Michael Parkinson in a leather cat suit with the word ‘hip’ next to him. It’s fooling nobody.
But maybe rather than trying to up its hip quotient with the kids, Dell should be focusing on addressing business, its core constituency. It’s message has always been ‘Pretty decent PCs delivered direct with no fuss’. But maybe businesses aren’t wowed by this any more. It could be that buying PCs is not an issue that keeps them up at night. Maybe their focus has moved elsewhere. Maybe the way the business world sources the applications it needs and the devices it runs them on is changing faster than Dell can keep up with.