A secure, 10-inch touch screen, business-ready tablet that runs on Windows 7 is the jewel in Dell’s crown as it announced 39 new products Feb. 8.
In the coming year, Dell will launch 39 new offerings – 24 of them specifically targeted for business – including several updated laptops, an updated convertible tablet, and new mobile workstations. The new products are focused on mobility and security, according to the computer maker.
Seven new Dell Latitude laptop models will be introduced, along with the XT3, a convertible tablet with an option keyboard attachment. Dell will also introduce three new OptiPlex desktop computers and three new Dell Precision mobile workstations.
The real star of the new line-up, though, will be a 10-inch business-ready tablet that uses a Windows 7-based platform. It will be one of the first commercial-grade tablets of its kind on the market and it will allow IT managers to use their existing tools, says Alison Gardner, senior manager of consumer/small-medium business product marketing at Dell.
Specific details of the tablet have yet to be released, other than it will use an Intel processor. In 2010, the company launched the Dell Streak tablet, an Android-operated device that is smaller than the new tablet at only five inches.Tablets have mainly been used for consumption in the past, but now they are moving toward the creation side and employees are using them to complete work rather than just receive company information, says James McCloskey, a senior analyst at Info-Tech Research Group.
“In effect, it’s a laptop in a different form.” Security and manageability, then, are important parts of maintaining this new type of network, he says. “When I look at what Dell is doing, they’re certainly moving in the right direction.”
Trends in the way that people are working made the move toward mobile technology even more important, says Gardner. With diverse and distributed workforces, companies need to be able to ensure their information security from all over the world, she says. The need for employees to collaborate is also a significant issue to address when designing new products and services, she says.
McCloskey calls it “a perfect storm” – the combination of smartphones, desktops, laptops and tablets that make up the working communication of a business. Indeed, IDC estimates that there will be more than one billion mobile workers worldwide by the end of this year. The same study suggests thatby 2013, that number will grow to about 1.2 billion, a third of the world’s workforce.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of the new products is the improved security features. Past development of tablets has focused more on how users consume information, say McCloskey, and now security is becoming more of a priority.
Regulations are also moving from the company “should” to the company “must”- in other words, company policies on secure information are becoming more concrete, he says. “You can no longer ignore it,” he says of sensitive company information. “It’s an evolution, not a revolution, but it’s an appropriate evolution,” McCloskey says.
In creating its products, one of Dell’s goals was to protect its products’ hardware and the information stored on it, says Gardner. The company will use Remote Data Delete on its new Latitude laptops, in case they are lost or stolen. Similar technology exists for smartphones, says McCloskey, and it’s a good way of protecting information. The computers also will include Dell Data Protection, the company’s encryption solution.
The Free Fall Sensor, which will also be on the new laptops, is also a particularly interesting feature, he says, since tablets and even laptops often are dropped. The sensor detects when the device is in “free fall” mode and will protect the hard drive against information being deleted. This means reduced support costs later, he says.
There have also been significant design and interface changes to the new Dell products to stay on top of consumer trends. Desktop virtualization, for example, will also allow employees to reap the benefits of mobility without being physically mobile, says McCloskey.
Dell’s most recent changes and its move toward mobile working is a reflection of work lives and personal lives becoming more intertwined, Gardner says. “You never stop living, you never stop working,” she says, and technology needs to support that.