Dell doubles down on PCs, unveils new product

Dell stressed its commitment to a strong client solutions to maintain end-to-end solutions, and announced an enhanced tablet and software suite, a new high end monitor, and a new concept of working on your PC.


The Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 Series

AUSTIN – While Dell built up its initial business on PCs, the company has constructed a diverse end-to-end portfolio over the last decade. Still, it is stressing that it is in no way de-emphasizing the lower margin PC business even as it looks higher up the IT value chain. To this end, Dell announced a broad range of offerings across the gamut of its client solutions portfolio, including new Dell Venue 11 Pro tablets, an Ultra HD 5K monitor, an innovative new “smart desk” concept for design professionals and new security and manageability software in the Dell Software Suite.

“Is the PC dead?” asked Michael Dell from the stage at Dell World, echoing a common question in the tech industry over the last few years. “We still believe the PC is how real business gets done.”

Michael Dell also stressed that even as HP abandons the goal of end-to-end integration within one company, Dell remains committed to that objective.

“You have to have both ends, or else it is THE end,” he said, referring to the need to be able to provide the entire solution, including PCs.

Jeff Clarke, Dell’s vice chairman, operations and president, Client Solutions said that PCs and the other components of client solutions re-emphasized this theme, while outlining the new offerings.

“Without client solutions, you don’t have an end-to-end solution that goes back to the data centre,” he said. “The PC is the predominant productivity machine in the workplace. It is morphing into different types of PCs, but it’s still the type where work gets done. It is also a primary acquisition vehicle for us to acquire new customers. Two out of three times, the first commercial buy of a customer is a Latitude [notebook] or OptiPlex [desktop].”

To this end, Clarke said Dell continues to ramp up Client Solutions spending.

“We have increased our investments, and added more generalists and specialists,” he said. “We have also increased in marketing to generate demand, and are much more specific about what we are trying to accomplish. We have also increased investment in R&D, and in solutions engineering.”

The result has been strong PC growth, while competitors have slipped – seven consecutive quarters of year over year in PC shipments, according to IDC, with shipments up by nearly 10 per cent year over year.

“We are very excited about this trajectory, and believe it will continue,” Clarke said.

Updates to the Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 Series tablets are one reason why. Tablet security is a major concern for corporate IT, because of the time required to set up, configure, manage and secure tablets when compared to laptops, and because organizations believe tablets are more vulnerable to viruses, software security breaches and becoming quickly outdated

“With the new Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 series, our ability to secure data at rest is unprecedented in the marketplace,” Clarke said. The enhancements enhance secure access to content beyond the corporate firewall for easy IT management. Other improvements include making the design 15 per cent thinner, and fan-less, for a light and quiet user experience. Battery life has also been extended, to 8-18 hours, depending on use. Tailored versions for niche uses have been introduced. Dell Healthcare Case can be fully sanitized and is specifically designed for hospitals and healthcare facilities. Dell Mobile Payment Solution adds a 2D barcode scanner and mag stripe reader for the retail and hospitality industries.

The Venue 11 Pro can be configured with additional security features including two-factor authentication with integrated smartcard and fingerprint readers as well as the Dell Data Protection suite of client security software.

The new Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 Series starts at $799.99 CDN and is available beginning November 11.

Clarke described the new monitor, the Dell UltraSharp 27 Monitor, as a bleeding-edge solution. It is the world’s first display to offer Ultra HD 5K resolution (5120 x 2880), and is four times the resolution of QHD and seven times the resolution of Full HD.

“We are making a breakthrough announcement today, with millions of pixels, and amazing capability to allow you to do things in say, healthcare and graphics design that were unthought of three years ago,” he said.

The Dell UltraSharp 27 Monitor will be available in December for $2699.99 CDN.

Clarke also announced major enhancements to the Dell Software Suite, a unified client software portfolio that provides superior security and management on Dell clients, and which is available free for one year on Dell commercial client devices. The price after the first year depends on which option you choose. The suite manages Windows devices with the ability to determine system hardware and software inventory, apply BIOS and driver updates, and view warranty information. It also enforces access control policies.

“This is an integration of what has been a set of independent capabilities from us into a common tool suite, with Dell KACE and SonicWALL tools, and we will continue to do this level of integration,” he said. “These products are all now free on our products for one year, making sure every Dell notebook and tablet is the most secure in the marketplace. I think that’s pretty important news.”

Dell also announced a “smart desk” concept designed to demonstrate their vision of what’s possible for design professionals. Intended to revolutionize the workspace of the future, it combines interactive multi-touch LCD screens with a horizontal digital work surface that ergonomically surrounds the user for natural manipulation using touch, stylus and new-generation totem-based tools.

“This is a concept announcement, not a product,” Clarke said. “It is our view of where the desktop goes forward. It changes the user experience about how you interact with your PC, to be more natural. Today, there is still a cumbersome interaction between you and your PC, but we think this is disruptive in terms of how people will work, to have data at your disposal and be able to organize more effectively as we move from analog to digital workflows.”

Finally, Clarke said the role of the channel in Dell’s client business will only grow.

“It is more today than yesterday, and will be more tomorrow than today,” he said. “The channel is an integral part of reaching all customers in the marketplace.”