Dell's MID Idea Is Kinda SAD - InformationWeek

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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
05:37 PM

Dell's MID Idea Is Kinda SAD

Later this year, Dell is reportedly going to sell a pocked-sized gizmo that can access the Internet, but won't offer telephony. In other words, it's working on inventing its own version of Apple's Newton.

Later this year, Dell is reportedly going to sell a pocked-sized gizmo that can access the Internet, but won't offer telephony. In other words, it's working on inventing its own version of Apple's Newton.I say that because however much sense its business strategy might make on a spreadsheet or slide presentation, it's just plain nutty from a real-world perspective.

The planned gizmo is categorized as a mobile Internet device, or "MID." Now, categories of products aren't real, per se, but labels invented by industry experts and consultants to describe markets. MIDs are supposed to fill a gap between mobile phones and laptop computers that netbooks don't.

Are there lots of people lining up to demand such a product? Are satisfied cellphone users complaining that they want a separate device to do most of what they can already do on their mobile phones? Does the world need another Kindle?

No, of course not. The "gap" and "it" that Dell's targeting don't exist. For all the social media blather and customer-centric software programs it must use, Dell is going to answer a question that nobody has asked.

Dell's brand was never about design, but rather the ability to manufacture and deliver products for the lowest-possible costs. So, while consumers are pretty much gadgeted-out, aren't there real needs that it could satisfy? The challenge would be to find truly revolutionary products somewhere in the world, and then bring them to market at a great price/with great service. How about a truly functional voice-activated Internet device, or "VAID?" Why not a community-driven social search thing, or "CDST," that let members use geolocation, or "GPS," to tee-up recommendations? Couldn't it make a throwaway chat gizmo that looks like a beeper, or "TCGTLLAB," that could be bought in a variety of fashion colors?

While we're talking innovation and acronyms, why not rethink the device format entirely? Where's the wearable Internet surfing device, or the readout that lets you know things with light or sound cues instead of text lists? How about a device that reads RIFD tags and updates a personal experience database, or somehow accrues product discounts for having window-shopped? Why not think past devices, which are just a variable track to becoming a commodity, to the services and activities they enable?

Somebody should tell Dell that its latest gizmo is just "SAD" (a stupid arbitrary device).

Jonathan Salem Baskin writes the Dim Bulb blog and is the author of Branding Only Works On Cattle.

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