April 17, 2007
One of The VAR Guy’s neighbors just received a Dell notebook at work, which he called a “laptitude or something like that.” Like millions of other consumers, this neighbor had never heard of Dell’s Latitude brand. Apparently, Dell is finally read to change that.
The struggling PC giant has hired Oracle Corp. veteran Mark Jarvis as its first chief marketing officer. He previously held that title at Oracle during a 14-year career at the software giant, according to AP.
What will Jarvis do at Dell? Hmmm. The VAR Guy can only speculate, but he has some strong hunches. Just last week, The VAR Guy was speaking with Oracle’s VP of higher education. During the conversation, the VP mentioned that Oracle had incredibly simple brands: Oracle Financials, Oracle Marketing, Oracle Supply Chain Management. You see a trend here, folks?
Now, drive down the road from Oracle and visit Apple. For mobile users, you’ve got the MacBook and MacBook Pro. That’s it. As Roberto Duran put it so well, “No Mas.” No tricky names. No crazy model numbers
Unfortunately, the situation is quite different at Dell. The VAR Guy isn’t predicting that Jarvis will try to scrap all of Dell’s brands. But let’s take a look at Dell’s current lineup. In the notebook world, Dell has the Inspiron, XPS, Latitude and Precision Mobile Workstations. If you didn’t know any better, those brands could come from four different companies.
Drill down into the Inspiron line, and there’s the 1501, e1405, e1505 and e1705 models. Move over to the XPS, and you’ll find the M1210, M1710 and the M2010 models. Hmmm. It sounds like George Lucas and his merry band of droid designers ran Dell branding before Jarvis arrived. A savvy computer shopper might guess that the numbers reflect each system’s screen size … or maybe not.
Either way, Dell’s corporate brand and product brands have rusted in recent years. Dell’s corporate brand used to evoke terms like low cost, speed, efficiency and rapid customer response. Not anymore. Even Apple–known to charge a premium for its products–has eliminated Dell’s pricing advantage in some areas.
The VAR Guy was a loyal Dell customer from about 1998 to about 2005. But he switched to Apple in 2006 because he wanted a more reliable hardware/software combo.
Dell certainly lost its way in recent years. Now that Michael Dell is running the show again, The VAR Guy thinks there are at least 10 areas where Dell can improve its business. If Michael gets things right, The VAR Guy may purchase a Dell PC running Linux rather than a Mac for his home.
Now, if only he could remember the system’s brand name.
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