Potential Streak buyers blast Dell over delays

Analyst calls on Dell to finally set a sale date or lose credibility

The Dell Streak could well be a promising new five-inch tablet that doubles as an Android smartphone. However, potential U.S. buyers have already gone ballistic over pre-sale order confusion, release delays and a reported $299 price tag.

"I certainly would have purchased this product from [Dell], but I've waited long enough," wrote Dell community commenter "stevegossett" yesterday. "You missed a great window of opportunity which now I will take advantage of by buying a competitor's product ."

Dell's online community is replete with criticism of the latest delay from the company that had earlier promised in an online FAQ that the Streak would be on sale in the U.S. by the end of the month of July. The critics are responding to a Dell spokesman's statement this week that the Streak wouldn't ship this month, but instead at a later, as-yet unknown date.

The company's plan was further complicated on Tuesday when Dell posted, and then removed, an online message that said Streak sales would commence on Wednesday.

Dell said the post was a mistake. The company later removed the FAQ promising July availability and replaced it with a note saying: "The Dell Streak will be available for purchase soon!"

Other commenters complained about the $299 price tag reportedly pegged in an -email to certain registered customers and then recalled. Dell and AT&T, its U.S. carrier, have not confirmed the price.

"I am attempting to understand the premium price of $299 for the subsidized version," wrote "SmellstheRat" on the Dell forum. "In a rapidly changing market, with other competitors having already gotten to market with 4-inch+ screens, the latest Android OS on their products, and more coming, why would you put such a price on a 'new' product?"

"PrettyTony" suggested that Dell is "holding back on a release date for the Streak because AT&T wants to wait until after they announce other devices like whatever it is they are announcing with RIM this coming Tuesday? ... P.S.--You guys are a joke." Dell didn't respond to request for comments on the complaints.

In earlier interviews, a spokesman had acknowledged that Dell had mentioned in May that the device would go on sale in the U.S. in the summer.

Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said the recent concerns about the Streak release and price continue a chain of rumors about the device going back for months. "This has been off and on again for months," he said.

Dell is "losing a lot of credibility," Gold said. "Dell needs to step up and say to potential customers definitively when it will ship and meet that date or lose a number of frustrated customers who have been waiting [on buying] competing products."

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen , or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

Read more about smartphones in Computerworld's Smartphones Topic Center.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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