Dell redoes laptop line as part of major mobile push

Battling back at rival HP, Dell plans to increase laptop portfolio by 50% in 2008

Dell Inc. unveiled a redesigned laptop line this week as part of a corporate plan to increase its laptop portfolio by 50% this year.

The PC manufacturer announced yesterday that it made over its Vostro laptop line for small businesses with two new models, the 13.3-in. Vostro 1310 and the 15.4-in. Vostro 1510. A redesigned 17-in. Vostro 1710 laptop was also introduced.

The new and redesigned laptops are available now in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and are expected to be available in the U.S. by May 1.

Noting the dramatic growth of the laptop market, Dell pointed out that it plans to expand its laptop offerings by 50% by the end of 2008.

"Clearly, laptops are taking a greater share of the market," said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at Insight 64. "Intel just yesterday said laptops would make up 50% of the market by the end of the calendar year. People had said it would happen by 2010, maybe 2009, but it's looking like it'll be this year. Clearly, the volumes are there to justify [Dell's] move."

Dell has been chasing rival Hewlett-Packard Co. in the laptop battle for months now.

In January, Dell announced that it was closing its 140 retail kiosks around the U.S. as it turned its attention to major retail outlets such as those of Best Buy Co., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Staples Inc. The move prompted Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc., to note at the time that Dell was mimicking market leader HP's channel strategy.

Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata Inc., said it only makes sense that Dell would turn an increasing amount of attention to the laptop category since that's where all the market attention and growth is these days. "The desktop is a fairly static market at this point," he added. "The real action is in the mobile space, across a variety of form factors."

Brookwood noted that if Dell is going to grab some market share back from HP, which has a plethora of laptops, this is a move the company has to make right now.

"I think laptops have to be part of Dell's future growth plan," he said. "Any successful vendor clearly needs to be targeting that."

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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