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Dell's Smartphone Rejected — Too Dull 174

Posted by timothy
from the stomach-for-human-weakness-but-not-the-eye dept.
MBCook writes "AppleInsider has an article discussing Dell's attempt to enter the smartphone market, as well as the news that the phone was rejected by carriers as too dull. The article doesn't pull punches: 'Dell's failure to successfully step from the commodity PC business into the mobile handset market should come as no surprise, as smartphones requires expertise in software platform development, consumer design savvy, and portable device engineering, all things Dell has never demonstrated any proficiency in.'"
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Dell's Smartphone Rejected — Too Dull

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  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @08:15PM (#27283773)

    More interesting than a boring Dell phone, was a note near the end that Acer had a smrtphone out - one of them is the DX900 [youtube.com], a Windows Mobile phone.

    Sorry about the voice...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dbcad7 (771464)
      Good catch.. Google shopping results lead me to believe that this is not selling yet, but coming in April.. It does have some neat specs.. quad band, dual sim with an onboard gps receiver is a combo I have searched for before and not found.. I have found many dual sim with TV tuner (soon to be useless in the US) but none with the GPS.
    • That voice is neat. It's obviously computer generated, but still neat!

      • The voice to me, was kind of painful to listen to as it sounded OK but the inflections just kept being really weird (especially in one spot where the inflection made "two' sound like "too").

        But the funny thing was, when it was reading the phone specs (GSM/dual SIM/etc.) out it actually sounded more natural than many tech reporters! I guess tech knows tech! :-)

        • the inflection made "two' sound like "too"

          That doesn't make any sense. "Two" and "too" are pronounced identically.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Z00L00K (682162)

      The issue shouldn't be with the carriers at all. The issue should be if the customers want the specific phone.

      It seems to me that the market in the US when it comes to mobile phones isn't favoring what the customer wants but is instead enforced by the carriers.

  • by CatOne (655161) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @08:16PM (#27283779)

    I mean, given they pay him "consulting fees" I wouldn't doubt it. But maybe a contrarian viewpoint to Enderle... just take everything that he says as the "wrong" view and you'll do well.

  • G2 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew&gmail,com> on Saturday March 21, 2009 @08:26PM (#27283853) Homepage Journal

    Bring on the G2 (or whatever it will be called for Sprint and Verizon) in April. I'm also curious how Nokia will respond now that they own Qt, and they've got working fully functional KDE 4 desktops on their n810 tablets.

    Bring on the OLED screens that are thinner, use less battery, and have much higher resolution.

    Smartphones are going to explode in the next two years. People said you didn't "need" a camera in your phone, or GPS, and they're becoming commonplace. Most people don't "need" a smartphone, but everyone will have one, and we'll find new uses for them.

    • Re:G2 (Score:5, Funny)

      by timothy (36799) Works for Slashdot on Saturday March 21, 2009 @08:38PM (#27283977) Homepage Journal

      "Smartphones are going to explode in the next two years."

      Which ones?!

    • The way to compete with the iPhone is to offer phones for the people who dislike virtual keyboards. Instead, they have created a direct head-to-head device that offers no keyboard in the G2.

      I think this is a terrible mistake. Not on the order of killing Android, more like a massive hit in opportunity cost to gain marketshare.

      On the other hand I think the Pre will do pretty well in the market, which will squeeze the marketshare of the G2 even further. The Pre is really trying to specialize as things diff

    • umm.... You forgot a major factor. Cellphones/Smartphones are carried by people. So they need to look good, in many ways that is more important then any technical detail. When the iPhone was released it is much slimmer and sleeker then the other smart phones out there. If it was a big block even with more cool tech and still had good battery life it wouldn't sell. If you cary it with you it becomes a fashion accessary too, so it has to look good.

  • If you can't have a fashion victim feeling comfortable with your phone, then you have just found painted yourself into a crowed corner of other generic looking devices. If you are going to charge someone $200-$400 for a phone, then it better not look like it was put together without any care for appearance. If you want to make a generic phone, be ready to charge no more than $50 for it.

  • Screw the carriers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 21, 2009 @08:45PM (#27284043)

    Screw the carriers. Just release the phone worldwide as an unlocked GSM phone.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Unfortunately it isn't that easy. I worked for the worlds biggest mobile phone vendor in retail strategy for a while. In most markets consumers have been trained that phones are worth $0 (on a monthly plan) despite the fact they end up paying more overall than if they bought them outright. This means the network operators have enormous influence. If a phone doesn't get selected for inclusion on a plan, it has nearly zero chance of selling to the mass market. Even the worlds #1 mobile phone vendor had to pla

    • by dwater (72834)

      Right. That was my reaction too - 'What's this got to do with carriers?'.

      They piss me right off. I wish there were one that were happy to be a dumb pipe, because that's all anyone wants from them - anyone apart from the carriers themselves that is.

  • Apple Insider (Score:5, Insightful)

    by i.of.the.storm (907783) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @08:50PM (#27284081) Homepage
    Uh, does anyone else find it a bit suspect that this is from a site called Apple Insider? For me that completely ruins the credibility of this story. I mean, any smartphone is miles less dull than the generic clamshells and candybars that the telcos keep pushing.
    • Re:Apple Insider (Score:4, Informative)

      by Karlt1 (231423) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @09:01PM (#27284165)

      Uh, does anyone else find it a bit suspect that this is from a site called Apple Insider? For me that completely ruins the credibility of this story. I mean, any smartphone is miles less dull than the generic clamshells and candybars that the telcos keep pushing.

      The Apple Insider article and the Slashdot summary also linked here:

      http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/dell-phone-stalled-poor-reception/story.aspx?guid= [marketwatch.com]{E1450208-5E11-4A8F-B726-85A6AFF04E2A}

      • Right, but the summary started off with "AppleInsider has an article..." which immediately set off my bullshit detector. Even the marketwatch article is based on what an analyst said, and I for one don't put much worth in what analysts say, because there's no source cited. And the summary is written in a purposely inflammatory way and bashes Dell for no good reason. I don't own a Dell, but the XPS and Studio lines look really attractive. Bleh. I don't know if I should have expected better from Slashdot.
    • Re:Apple Insider (Score:4, Informative)

      by caerwyn (38056) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @09:01PM (#27284169)

      The first link from Apple Insider is definitely a bit on the biased side. The second link, though, is to MarketWatch, and is a little better on the fact/rant ratio.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slyn (1111419)

      Appleinsider used to be (and probably still is) the best *editorial* apple rumor website. However, more recently their best writer (Prince McLean) has become more like Daniel Eran Dilger of RouglyDrafted in his style and bias. In the websites "Road to Snow Leopard" series about OS 10.6, occasionally McLean would cite Dilger concerning random tidbits of Mac history, but not often enough to make the articles bad like Dilgers self-citing poorly written biased excuses for articles are. More recently though, McL

      • by zullnero (833754)
        So, because they specialize in "Apple rumors", that makes them unbiased when reviewing competitor's phones?

        I don't think so. That's like going to Treocentral and think you're going to get a resounding review of the iPhone as it stacks up to the Treo.
        • by slyn (1111419)

          So, because they specialize in "Apple rumors", that makes them unbiased when reviewing competitor's phones?

          No, but despite some of the epic bias in this particular article, it still brings an interesting view to the table. Take for example, the introduction of the Blackberry Storm, the G1, or the announcement of the Palm Pre. The media fell in love with each, claiming each would be an iPhone killer to the extreme (the "killer" status was declared for the G1 before the iPhone was even actually out, and no consumers have actually dealt with anything but display prototypes of the Pre still to this day). In all thre

      • by cthellis (733202)
        McLean is Dilger. If you head over to RD, you'll notice he links over to every McLean article on Appleinsider.

        Offhand, though, I haven't really detected any "shades of" styling when reading one article or another. Perhaps when writing AI articles he's not as apt to put gratuitous Microsoft-bashing in it, and anything that's simply "news reporting" over editorializing is apt to appear on AI primarily and not matter as much for him to blog about on RD, but the writing style has always been similar, and wh
    • by timmarhy (659436)

      it's a timothy/kdawson story. facts and fact checking have no place in it.

    • by zullnero (833754)
      I certainly get the feeling that the "pulls no punches" part of this writeup is kind of redundant, considering that yes, it's by AppleInsider.

      Of course Apple fanboys are going to rag on the competitor's phone. These are the same types of people who fervently believe that Apple invented the smartphone.
      • ..and the mp3 player, and the GUI, the mouse, ad nauseum.

        Of course Apple fanboys are going to rag on the competitor's phone. These are the same types of people who fervently believe that Apple invented the smartphone.

        • by cthellis (733202)
          Almost no one believes Apple "invented" them. (Besides which, it's usually hard to credit who "invents" one thing and when, especially since general tech concepts tend to have a very long "conceptual" stage to begin with, from prognosticators to research papers, to actual research, to who gets it to market first and in what form...)

          Very few, however, will disagree that Apple brought those and more to the public, in mature and accessible form, and prompted explosions in popularity.
    • by Sentry21 (8183)

      Ignoring the fact that the article from AppleInsider was reporting on the actual story (adding their own spin on it)? AppleInsider posted it because it was relevant, and is biased towards Apple, but they didn't write the analysis, they just reported on it. The original article (also linked from the summary) says the exact same thing.

      • True, but it seems like the original article doesn't have any sources, and there still isn't even any confirmation that Dell is working on a smartphone at all. Also, Slashdot should have linked to the MarketWatch article and not linked to the AppleInsider at all, since it's just a flamebait post. Nowhere in the MarketWatch article does it mention carriers thinking it was dull; in fact, I would not be surprised if the lack of interest was because it included too many features that they couldn't cripple, espe

  • Phone Economics? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @08:54PM (#27284107)

    I guess I don't really understand the economics behind handsets. I've always bought my own and never through the service provider. Thanks to AT&Ts following the GSM standard, I just put my SIM chip in whatever phone I want and I'm good to go.

    What is the likelyhood that some manufacturer comes out with some compelling device and sell it directly to the consumers? The consumers use it in spite of the desires of the network operators.

    • by wagnerer (53943) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @10:14PM (#27284703)

      Your behavior just hi-lights the fact that you don't understand the economics. A portion of that monthly service payment to the carrier either goes to pay off the cost of the phone subsidy or directly to the carriers profit line. At the very least get one of the free phones with it to keep as a back-up. If you don't want it then donate it to charity. But I'm sure the AT&T stockholders appreciate your contribution to their dividend checks.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by AvitarX (172628)

        But in the end the carriers want the contracts. A few outliers without them is no big deal, but if people could jump around on a whim nobody wins. The fact that if a carrier wins a customer it means 2 years of that customer allows them to spread the cost of acquisition (a fixed cost per/customer)over a longer period of time.

        This is reflected in the fact that if you pre-pay, not only do you pay more for the phone, you also pay more for the usage.

        When my contract was nearing an end, the tmo was desperate to

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I do as the grandparent poster, bringing my own phone with T-Mobile USA, but I use a pre-paid SIM that cost me about $8 to start the account and about $16/month in usage fees.

        I agree, if you are a heavy user and have no intention to switch carriers or reduce usage during the contract period, a well chosen contract with a "free" phone may be cost effective. But I crunched the numbers when I was in such a situation, and found that after a year or so I was wasting money because I had signed on to the 1000 minu

      • In both the countries I have lived in it is common to be able to get prepaid connections that give you cheap calls subsidised phones.

        The telcos far prefer to sell monthly packages (more profitable) but they would rather be in the pre-paid market than lose those customers altogether - that is how competition is supposed to work.

        I buy cheap phones as well (approx USD 50) and make few phone calls so I spend very little in total.

      • by speedtux (1307149)

        A portion of that monthly service payment to the carrier either goes to pay off the cost of the phone subsidy or directly to the carriers profit line.

        What "monthly service payment" would that be?

        Just get a prepaid plan.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      What is the likelyhood that some manufacturer comes out with some compelling device and sell it directly to the consumers?

      Low, because most people want a fancy device and won't think a second thought about buying into a 2 year contract in exchange for a $100 superphone.

      Most people wouldn't pay $600 for a phone up front. The only company that -could- get away with it and be successful these days would be Apple, but they get a huge amount of concessions from the carriers because they can bring the hype and th

    • by rnelsonee (98732)

      I've never bought a phone outright and don't plan to, because if you sign a contract, you'll get steep discounts on the phone.

      If you're talking about a $100 phone (no subsidy) then I can understand, as $100 may be worth not being tied to a contract.

      But for people who want the latest phones, you save hundreds of dollars for buying through the provider. For example, you can get an iPhone right now for $99 from AT&T if you use them for two years. Rumor is they will go on sale soon, no contract needed, fo

  • by grapeape (137008) <`moc.rr.ck' `ta' `7epopm'> on Saturday March 21, 2009 @08:57PM (#27284143) Homepage

    Dell missed its opportunity when it unceremoniously dumped its PDA line, after having one of the best with the x50v they pulled away to focus on MP3 players that no one wanted delivering millions of what were nearly fanatical users straight into the hands of what would now be their competition.

  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki.cox@net> on Saturday March 21, 2009 @09:00PM (#27284161)

    They should be shooting for volume sales of a hot platform, like their current PC strategy is now.

    Instead of trying to build a gee-whiz unique product, they should be building a phone that's cheaper than an HTC G1, runs Android and is available to a variety of networks. Dull, sure, but at a pricepoint beating the G1, it doesn't have to be a flashy offering, just usable and capture the enthusiasm of the G1 fanbase and potential market. 3G, Bluetooth, Web and Android apps.

    What else would they need?

    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @09:09PM (#27284233)

      Instead of trying to build a gee-whiz unique product, they should be building a phone that's cheaper than an HTC G1, runs Android and is available to a variety of networks.

      That sounds a lot like what they did, actually. We don't know how much they wanted for this, but it was capable of Android and Windows Mobile and they tried marketing it to multiple providers. The providers weren't interested. They want low end non-smart phones and high end smart phones.

      What else would they need?

      Buy in from providers and economy of scale to make it cheap enough.

      • They shouldn't be selling to providers. They should be selling unlocked phones directly to the public, cheaply. All of the providers here (not sure about the USA) offer SIM-only deals that are cheaper than versions that come with a contract, and a lot of people now switch phones and contracts independently.
    • by Karlt1 (231423)

      They should be shooting for volume sales of a hot platform, like their current PC strategy is now.

      Yeah that's working out well for them.....

      http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?t=5y&s=DELL&l=on&z=m&q=l&c=aapl [yahoo.com]

  • by fermion (181285) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @09:12PM (#27284259) Homepage Journal
    According to an article in the register carriers are more concerned, as ould be expected, with how to extract a profit from a phone [theregister.co.uk] rather than an innovative feature set.

    Given the phones that have not made it to the US market, and the fact that the iPhone has to bypass the carriers all together, I do not trust their judgement on how interesting a phone might be. OTOH, given that it is a Dell, and does run an MS OS, I would assume that it was just another phone, perhaps full of gee whiz features, but not worth stocking over any other mobile device.

    Perhaps they should approach Cricket or Boost Mobile. I don't think either of those has a smart phone, and Dell can likely make it cheap enough, as MS probably has some motivation to get into this extremely low level market sector.

    • by dangitman (862676)

      and the fact that the iPhone has to bypass the carriers all together

      Pardon?

    • What do you mean the iPhone bypasses carriers all together? I cannot think of a way in this is true.

    • It probably will be another typical wince bases phone, probably rather similar to the Touch and others, on the first look an iphone clone ui, but as soon as you hit the start button wince will rear its ugly head out of it and you will be forced to use the stylus...

    • and the fact that the iPhone has to bypass the carriers all together

      Apple is selling the most strongly carrier-locked phone ever, and that is Apple's choice. They could have offered the iPhone unlocked. Instead, Apple went out of their way of setting up exclusive contracts with carriers in every country they offer the iPhone in.

      What Apple managed to do is to divert some of the revenue stream from carriers to themselves, by offering for-pay add-on services with the phone, but that is hardly a win for consu

  • When will computer manufacturers learn that they don't have the expertise to design cool, sleek products like a cell phone? They should leave that to other companies like Appl...

    er...

    nuts, why doesn't this "Add Comment" form have a "Cancel" button?

  • Dull as in boring, or dull as in not shiny (apple people, there is a difference).

    If they mean boring, then fine, I can see that as a bad thing

    If they mean not shiny, then what's the problem? I specifically bought a non-shiny phone (w385) because it has rubber on 50% of the phone and neither scratches nor needs a cover that makes it 150% thicker. If only it were unlockable...

  • by FooGoo (98336) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @09:48PM (#27284513)

    Dell seems to be trying to be Apple with their smart phones and their bizarre new aluminum netbook. Commodity equipement makes only innovate in reducing their production costs not in product development/design.

    Dell is in a tight spot being squeezed by Apple at the high end and other commodity PC manufacturer at the low end.

    • What would you do if you were the owner of Apple?

      I would close the company!

      Michael Dell ca 1997....

      • by FooGoo (98336)

        Yes, he would close Apple and put all the money he saved into turning Dell into Apple.

  • Am completely shocked. Really. I just can't believe that APPLINSIDER would publish an article claiming Dell isn't able to make a consumer savvy, portable well-designed smartphone able to compete with other leading competitors. Man, it's like they are openly advocating for another company with an entry in that market which touts itself as the ultimate consumer savvy designer portable device manufacturer or something. That's just brutal.

  • It has been for several years IMO, but now it's becoming clear that they won't be able to alter the course of events. I think the fate of the company is no longer in its own hands. A sale is more likely than a bankruptcy. I can see IBM taking another shot at this market segment :) It might be worth a shot if they can get it cheap enough.

    • Na IBM knows when to get out of a market, normally at a time when companies like Dell take over. IBM always goes for the high margin, as soon as down with quality discounters appear they leave....

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Sunday March 22, 2009 @12:11AM (#27285369) Journal

    Was build-to-order and fast delivery. They grew like crazy by being aggressive cost-cutters, and when they cut the costs to the point where their low quality started to get on their customers' nerves, their decline was a foregone conclusion.

    -jcr

  • by hwyhobo (1420503) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @01:07AM (#27285671)

    Ever since I've been forced to use Blackberry 8300, I long for a regular, dull phone. One where I don't have to put magnifying glasses on to know what the heck I am doing. One where I can easily do what I need without having to go through layers upon layers of incomprehensible menus.

    If not for the fact that I have to use it, and that the company is paying the bill (that is the only good aspect of it), I would use it for target practice and go back to my old, dull, basic clamshell Motorola, where I could do everything with one hand without even looking at it.

    • You can still buy them 2nd hand, and mine still works. Does the job, no BS, no gadgets, just works.

      BTW, I also have a Neoi 809 Swiss Air edition (neoi.de) and that is so small it takes too long to find it when it rings - and that *really* has small buttons - but it's very good for running as it has no weight and comes with 2 batteries.

      Personally, the most useful phone I have is the Sony Ericsson P1i, although the soft buttons means the "end call" button can vanish in a pile of menus. The company iPhone is

    • by Archon-X (264195)

      I have the same issue as you.
      I never use bells and whistles on phones. Mobile phones are simply a convenience for me to call someone if I need to, while I'm out and about.
      I like them to be simple, slim and usable.

      Check out the Samsung SGH-X230. I just picked one up outright for ~$130. It's .6 cm deep (ie, very slim), big display, hard buttons and it just works.

  • The real problem is that Dell even needs to go to the carriers and that the US mobile phone market is so fragmented. Most phones are carrier locked, many carries don't use SIM cards, and the ones that do and that allow unlocked phones (T-Mobile and AT&T) still use weird frequencies.

    There are at least two GSM carries in the US, T-Mobile and AT&T. Dell should produce low-cost, high quality unlocked phones for these carriers, and maybe even a dual GSM/CDMA phone that could be used with most carriers;

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