July 5, 2013
Is Dell Setting Its Sights On Wearable Computing?
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Though it's nearly an empty market at the moment, the wearable computing sector has been garnering a good bit of press with some of the largest tech companies expected to release glasses, watches and more. Small startups like Pebble are already offering their products to the public and Google is expected to release their glasses by the end of the year. However, companies like Apple, Microsoft and Samsung have only been rumored to be entering the wearable market with a smartwatch offering. Now one more company is saying they're also interested in this space and may one day consider releasing their own device into the wild.
In an interview with the Guardian, Dell's global vice-president of personal computing said his company is "exploring ideas" for wearable computing, but doesn't yet view this market as important as the latest "magic" technology, the tablet. Dell is currently preparing to take their company private as they struggle to remain competitive in a market where they've been losing ground for several years.
"There are challenges in cost, and how to make it a really good experience," said Sam Burd, Dell's vice president in his interview with the Guardian.
"But the piece that's interesting is that computers are getting smaller. Having a watch on your wrist - that's pretty interesting, pretty appealing."
Burd spoke carefully in his interview, saying he believed consumers will still look to desktop computers to perform many routine tasks and use mobile devices as supplemental technology.
"I don't see any magic new form factor like the iPad - I don't think anybody saw how that was going to change devices. But the number of [computing] devices per person is exploding," said Burd.
Apple's Tim Cook made similar comments about the possibility of a potential future "iWatch" during the All Things D conference held in California this May.
"There's lots of things to solve in this space," said Cook, who later added this emerging market is "ripe for exploration."
"The wrist is interesting. You still have to convince people it is worth wearing."
As the chatter surrounding these devices turns into a loud roar, it makes sense for Dell to begin considering a wearable device. The company, which was once a major contender in the consumer PC market, has slipped in recent years amid stronger competition and shifting computing trends. In the last quarter, Dell's revenues slipped by nine percent to $8.9 billion, while their income fell by 65 percent to $224 million. Though they have a successful enterprise and services business, one they hope will make them profitable once they leave the public market for a private venture, their PC sales have now slipped behind competitors like HP and Lenovo. Furthermore, analysts and data companies are predicting even worse times for PC machines. In May, the International Data Company (IDC) claimed the tablet market will grow by 59 percent by the end of 2013 and overtake PC sales by 2015. IDC blamed part of these bad sales on a low adoption rate of Microsoft's Windows 8, saying the radical redesign of the popular operating system has failed to move customers to upgrade to new hardware.