Dell Unwraps New Business Tablet: Positioned Against iPad?
Amid rolling out a new ultrabook and all-in-one PC late last week, Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) also unwrapped a business-directed tablet, the Latitude 10, a Windows 8-intended mobile device positioned for the commercial sector with advanced security options, a swappable battery and backward-application compatibility.
Sounds good so far but the two big questions surrounding Dell’s new tablet are: Can it challenge Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPad in business settings? And will channel partners get their hands on it? The combined short answer is the market for tablets among business customers is new and evolving and, Dell can carve out a visible presence if the utensils are in the hands of channel partners. The operative word, of course, is “if” Dell extends the tablet to partners for business accounts.
Dell says that the Latitude 10 meets IT’s requirements for policy-based encryption through Dell Data Protection and Encryption (DDPE encrypts all data from the hard drive to the USB port), it’s easy to support and maintain, its 10-inch screen exceeds the iPad’s real estate, it offers backward compatibility for legacy productivity software, and its battery life can be extended to 18 hours. In addition, Dell said it will offer more security for higher-level data protection for segments such as health care, government and education, including fingerprint and smart card readers for two-factor authentication. All of this is the stuff business customers need in a tablet, according to one review.
“Never before has the intersection between great design and data security and manageability been as important as employees increasingly ask for support for gorgeous products while IT needs to maintain corporate controls,” said Sam Burd, Dell global vice president, Personal Computing Product Group.
With Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) set to release Windows 8 and its Surface tablet Oct. 26, and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) also letting it be known it intends to offer a business-targeted Windows 8 tablet, Dell will have some company in trying to dent Apple’s market position. In taking the covers off the Latitude 10, Dell held off on making any public statements on the tablet’s pricing or exact launch dates. But those details are far less important than if Dell is going to leverage its channel to market the tablet to business customers, about which not a word was said.
Microsoft so far isn’t saying anything about involving its huge network of channel partners to sell Surface to business accounts but there’s no question HP will engage its solution providers to place its device with enterprise customers. In this case, Dell — which can match Microsoft’s online sales but not its retail presence — would do well to smile nicely at the former but follow the latter’s lead.