I believe Dell is in a unique situation to actually make something like this work. Here’s the opportunity:
The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 in a business setting.
I’ve been pondering this idea for a while now and have come to the conclusion that it really could work if they could market the idea properly. As with any good marketing campaign you first have to set up a problem, false or not. The following are some problems.
- Laptops are heavy
- Laptops are expensive
- Laptops are too big
- Laptops are too slow to boot up
- Laptops carry too much proprietary company data
- Laptops are easy to break (and loose all that data)
- Not everyone can have a laptop
The solution is the Dell Inspiron Mini 9. Or maybe they should rebrand it to a Latitude Thin Client, because this is my idea. Marry the Ubuntu OS and a 4GB solid state disk to an install that focuses on Citrix and/or Remote Desktop access. These UMPCs could be so cheap that some companies could easily afford to purchase one for every person, purchase one for every seat in a conference room (don’t lug that laptop!), or have dozens available in break room areas for people who otherwise don’t have access to a computer while at work.
It solves all our problems as above:
- Laptops are heavy, but the Inspiron Mini 9 is light enough to take anywhere.
- Laptops are expensive, but the Inspiron Mini 9 is cheap and easily replaceable.
- Laptops are too big, but the Inspiron Mini 9 can fit in your luggage as an afterthought.
- Laptops are too slow to boot up, but the Inspiron Mini 9 with its paired down operating system can be up and ready in seconds and can connect to your existing desktop session where all your important software is already running – no need to wait for Outlook to open and download email.
- Laptops carry too much proprietary company data, but the Inspiron Mini 9 carries nothing but address and connection information that is useless without a user’s authentication.
- Laptops are easy to break and loose all that data, but the Inspiron Mini 9 has a solid state disk that is tough enough to withstand a drop while powered up, and if you somehow do manage to break it all your data is safe on your desktop in your office.
- Not everyone can have a laptop, but everyone can own an Inspiron Mini 9 enabling 24 hour connectivity from home for all employees.
I’m sure there are other ideas for this too and that I’ve only scratched the surface of what could be done with this. I’m sure someone at Dell has already thought this through and decided that either it wouldn’t work or that they don’t want it to work. From their perspective, an equal profit margin is better on a $1000 laptop than it is on one at $300. Assuming the profit margins are equal, which is probably not valid, they would at a minimum have to sell more than 3 Inspiron Mini 9′s for every lost Latitude laptop sale. Still, if some company gets this idea first it could have a similar impact but without the Inspiron Mini 9 sales for Dell.
The Latitude would still be useful, but would be reserved for executives and people who really do need to work while away from connectivity. I see the UMPC providing new connectivity more than replacing laptops where they are already useful.