Doing it the Dell way with new colorful laptops
Michael Tatelman, Dell's vice president of global consumer sales and marketing, was recently in San Francisco to unveil a new brand of Dell laptops, dubbed Studio, which go on sale in Best Buy and Staples stores in the next few days.
In the last year, Dell has made a bigger push into the consumer market by paying closer attention to design. Last year, with the Inspiron line, consumers could pick the color of their laptop from a palette of five colors.
Tatelman said the effort was beginning to pay off. In May, Dell reported that its consumer PC sales grew more than twice the industry rate during the first quarter and that the company had increased its global share of the consumer market by 1.2 percentage points, to 8.8%. (HP is still the king of global computer sales with 19%, compared with Dell's 15%, according to IDC. But in the first quarter, Dell increased its share, most dramatically in the U.S. Here, Dell's share is 31%, up from 28% in the same quarter last year. In the U.S., HP dropped slightly to 24% from 25%.)
The Studio laptops come with the customizable goodies one expects from Dell, such as optional back-lighted keyboard and a 15- or 17-inch screen. They'll cost $799 to $999 and go on sale tomorrow.
But what Tatelman wanted to talk about was how people personalize their laptops. With Studio, consumers will have two more colors to choose from -- plum purple and tangerine orange (chosen because it is also a common school color) -- and an array of accessories such as laptop bags and mice that can be color coordinated with the laptop.
Tatelman sniped at the competitors' approach to customers, indicating that Dell wasn't ready to cede the consumer market yet to Apple, with its thin MacBook Air, or to HP, with its TV ad campaign that focused on the hands of celebrities as they talked about their computers. He described Apple's approach as "we'll tell you what you want" and HP's as "they will tell you what you want." He described Dell's, of course, as "what do you want to do with this?"
And then, Tatelman pulled out a gadget that looked like a midget laptop, about the size of a paperback novel. It was actually a wooden demo model of a future Dell product: a portable Internet surfing device with a keyboard. Then he giggled and put it away.
-- Michelle Quinn