The $62 billion American computer maker Dell is eying rapid growth in market share for its latest tablets and PCs running on the Windows 8 platform, an operating system it says would change the scenario from a ‘one person show’ and open avenues for other companies to build devices. PCs still contribute to half of Dell’s sales even as the Round Rock, Texas-based company is shifting its focus to software services. In an interview at the company’s annual event in Austin, Sam Burd, vice-president, personal computer product group, Dell, tells Debojyoti Ghosh that the tech major is extremely bullish on Microsoft’s latest operating system and that great products will help it grow even if the market is down or flat. Excerpts:
Recently Dell had a slew of product launches in the tablet family running Windows 8 or Windows RT. Are we seeing a complete shift from Android?
We have a full lineup of Windows 8 products in the tablet and personal computer (PC) space. In the PC space, we have been tremendously successful in selling Windows and we expect that to continue in the future. In the tablet segment, we are very bullish on the opportunity that we have in businesses and consumers with Windows 8. That has been the focus and thrust of our product line. We think our products like Latitude 10 can manage, secure and runs the apps under any existing business environment, and it does better than Android tablet. We are seeing that it can do better than any Android or iOS tablet. The Windows RT-based tablet XPS10 for the consumer space runs the applications that are part of the new Windows 8. So currently that has been our focus. We think these are great devices customers are looking for.
Have you identified the growth areas for these products? Where do you see the market other than the US?
We see a market globally for tablets. And globally, we think, the commercial space is very interesting for tablets. There is a trend where companies want to deploy tablets as a great productivity device. It is a lot easier with Windows 8 compared to options they had. In the commercial space globally, a lot of people are still running Windows XP, so there is an interest to convert to the new platform. We are also seeing a strong growth in the consumer space globally.
We are much more focused on the professional consumer segment. Our XPS line is targeting that category, while Inspiron range is more about mainstream PC that hits the right kind of value, feature and profile more people are looking for. That’s our target and when we look at that, US and Europe is interesting, but we also look at some of the fastest growing countries in the world like China, India, south-east Asia, Russia and Brazil are places, that will have a lot of growth and drive the demand for technology. We have a very good pricing in most of these countries. It is an attractive area to grow both in terms of tablet and PCs.
For Dell, the smartphone business didn’t take off well. The company failed to create a buzz globally. But, now with the latest launch in the tablet and PC space, do you see a new mobile strategy for the company?
I think tablets are very much a part of the PC business. And that is where we have excellent opportunity. You can look at tablets, ultrabooks as new approaches towards mobile computing, which has changed dramatically. We have seen this space evolve drastically in the last few years. This is something we do well and know what are customers are looking for and put out the devices that are successful.
We have said that we are not going to be in the smartphone space and I think when we look at it today, it is probably good decision that we made. A year and a half ago, there were two companies that had most of the global share in that space and it’s hard without the kind of scale. We have set our sights on markets and products where we look and say we can design the best thing out there and something that our customers want.
Designing the best tablet that fits in every corporate and home environment is what we are focusing on. We can do great tablets, notebooks and desktops, better than anyone else in the industry and that’s what we are focusing on. We are going to pick up places where we have advantage.
For 2013, the analysts community has not predicted an encouraging outlook for the PC industry. How do you see the prospects of the global PC market?
I think they are more bullish over the longer term. They are very much looking at a flat growth estimates in 2013. I can’t see anything different than that. I do think that when you add tablet to that space, it has been the kind of growth that we had historically in this business. And in case of Dell, with Windows 8, now we have the opportunity to compete across different devices.
In the longer term, there are some good things that will help growth as we go over the next couple of years like commercial customers, switching from Windows XP to 7 as it is a lot easier to buy a new system rather than go put a new operating platform on an old system. Tablets also has been a one person show so far, but now with Windows 8, it opens avenues for other companies to go and build great devices. These are all positive signs. If we do great products it will help us grow even if the market is down or flat.
When you say, it is long-term growth, what does it imply?
Over the next couple of years we see growth in the commercial space when people will upgrade their machines and convert it to Windows 7. Some of the rapid growth will come from the emerging countries in PCs. As people will buy smartphones, they will also want to upgrade their PCs. Windows 8 and touch, which works well on systems, when that comes down to $599, $499 kind of price points, will boom in the consumer markets. People will willingly go and replace their PCs, despite the phenomenal growth of smartphone devices. The market will not change tomorrow, but over a period of time.