Appolicious powers Verizon Educational Tools

More details emerge on Dell's tab plans

by Eric Benderoff

Dell will launch a 7-inch tablet in a matter of weeks, while several other new models will be available within a year. Also in today's App Industry Roundup, Steve Ballmer talks about mobile strategy.

Dell building 3-inch tab, too

A Dell (DELL) executive told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that the company will launch a 7-inch tablet computer in the coming weeks, while a 10-inch model will arrive early in 2011. This should come as no surprise, as Dell has been releasing information about its tab plans periodically over the last year. Indeed, Michael Dell showed off the 7-inch tab last week at an Oracle trade show.

In Australia on Wednesday, Dell Greater China President Amit Midha added a few details (but no pricing) on the computer maker's plans to aggressively get into the tab market. For one, Dell will be introducing a suite of new touch-screen products within a year, including 3-inch, 4-inch and 10-inch devices, the Journal notes. "In fact, very much in the near future we'll be launching the 7-inch tablet as well as the additional 3-inch product," Midha said.

The 3-inch product will likely be a phone, which may have more appeal than the 5-inch Dell Streak. (Is it a small tablet or a smartphone?) The touch products will run on both the Android and Windows operating systems, and there's a possibility other products will be designed for Google's Chrome OS.

In case you haven't been paying attention, this Dell confirmation comes on top of several other tablet developments. That includes Amazon entering the Android market with an app store and product, Samsung set to release the Galaxy tab, LG preparing a tab, BlackBerry announcing its PlayBook, and, of course, all the major U.S. wireless carriers preparing for big product pushes.

Is someone developing a scorecard?

What about Microsoft?

Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer sat down with the Seattle Times Tuesday to discuss a number of relevant issues for the company. Microsoft remains a giant in the corporate software world but has been outmaneuvered when it comes to consumer-friendly hardware, such as the aforementioned touch-screen tablets. Here's what Ballmer told the Seattle paper about the company's mobile plans.

Q: Windows Phone 7 (a cellphone platform) is coming out this holiday season. How are you going to turn this into a billion-dollar business for Microsoft?

A: The place to start is, "Are we going to have cool phones out with our software on them this holiday season?" You put aside the questions of how you make money and blah, blah, blah. That's all interesting in the long run. In the short run (claps his hands and rubs them together), people gotta want these phones. I think they're going to look pretty good. ... If we start the popularity chain and start kind of the buzz around these things, we'll be able to make some money off them.

Q: What did you learn from the Kin (a mobile phone that Microsoft canceled shortly after it began selling this year)?

A: The No. 1 message from Kin is a message of focus. You only get so many things you can really talk about, communicate, work on with the consumer. You've got to be bold, you've got to look forward and you've got to stay focused. Kin was neither -- with 20-20 hindsight -- bold enough relative to where the market's going, and it just defocused activity from Windows Phone.

My take: The Kin was on the market for 2 months and pulling it was a disaster for Microsoft. The product had a good focus -- a social networking tool for young consumers -- but the focus to develop and nurture the phone from Microsoft was missing. So amidst all of Microsoft's problems regaining it's foothold in mobile phones, how are we to trust the company's commitment when it rolls out Windows Phone 7?

Kindle is old, iPad is young

According to new research from Nielsen, Kindle users tend to be older why the iPad attracts a younger audience. The makes perfect sense to me, as older Americans have not been as influenced by multi-tasking as younger worker bees. Either that, or for $139, the Kindle is easier to stomach for people who also like Early Bird meal deals.