Exclusive: Dell spurns U.S. in launch of Android tablet in China

Dell will launch its 10-inch Streak 10 Pro tablet in China, not the U.S., as the company waits for the U.S. Android tablet market to mature before pushing a mainstream tablet product, CNET has learned.

To date, Dell has launched smaller tablets in the U.S. that don't compete directly with the iPad.
To date, Dell has launched smaller tablets in the U.S. that don't compete directly with the iPad. Dell

Dell will launch its highly anticipated 10-inch tablet in the Chinese market first, based on a emerging belief that the U.S. market isn't mature enough for a successful Android launch, Dell executives told CNET today.

Dell's Streak 10 Pro (see specifications below) will launch in China this summer and in the U.S. market probably sometime next year, John Thode, a Dell vice president and manager of Dell's mobility business, told CNET. The U.S. market simply doesn't offer a viable 10-inch tablet strategy for Dell, he said.

"This is not an either-or for us. This is a choice about where is the best place to take our story and avoids a bunch of the inhibitors and barriers to success that we've seen in the U.S. market," Thode said. "Things like confusion over what exactly Android is bringing to the table [and] an immature platform and roll out of devices that weren't quite ready yet."

Dell markets smaller tablets, such as the Dell Streak 7, and a hybrid product, the Inspiron Duo, in the U.S. but has yet to launch a tablet design that rivals the 9.7-inch iPad from Apple.

"China is the largest in the emerging market category and the second fastest-growing in the emerging market category. And China is also our second largest market right after the U.S.," said Amit Midha, chairman of Dell Greater China. "The China market in units may cross the U.S. in the next couple of years," he said, underscoring the importance of the market to Dell.

There are roughly 10,000 stores that sell Dell products in China and, by the end of the this year, there will be 2,000 service centers where customers can bring Dell products, Midha said.

Current stable of Dell tablets. Dell will launch its 10-inch competitor to Apple's iPad in China first, citing 'barriers and inhibitors' in the U.S. and 'upside-down' pricing at U.S. carriers.
Current stable of Dell tablets. Dell will launch its 10-inch competitor to Apple's iPad in China first, citing 'barriers and inhibitors' in the U.S. and 'upside-down' pricing at U.S. carriers. Dell

Thode also cited problems at U.S. carriers. "Even simple things like distribution channels that are controlled by the carriers with pricing models that are completely upside down to adoption [of a tablet]," he said about the U.S. market.

He continued. "We looked at all of that and we said, well wait a minute, that instead of trying to swim upstream let's go someplace where the growth rates are much more interesting, the adoption rates are much faster, the consumer is much more savvy...it became one of those aha moments," he said, again speaking to the myriad problems in the U.S. Android tablet market.

This sentiment echoes recent criticism of Android tablet launches by Nvidia's chief executive. Tablets other than the iPad have, so far, not sold well in the U.S. for many of the reasons cited by Thode.

The Dell Streak 10 is Dell's third tablet product and its first 10-inch Android-based tablet.

Some of the salient specifications of the Google Honeycomb Android tablet are: a thickness of 12 millimeters (0.47 inches), a weight of about 700 grams (about 1.5 pounds), edge-to-edge glass, brushed aluminum back, a 1280-by-800 screen, front and rear facing cameras (including a 5 megapixel camera), full 1080p video playback, an SD slot, and an Nvidia Tegra dual-core processor.

The tablet can also be purchased with a dock that has multiple USB ports, a USB host mode that allows PC-like emulation capabilities, HDMI video, the ability to run separate Citrix sessions on external monitors, and an Ethernet port, among other features.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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