Dell: Ivy Bridge, Windows 8 Will Drive Tablets, Ultrabooks Into Workspace

Dell is ready to place heavy bets on tablets and ultrabooks, and believes that Intel's forthcoming Ivy Bridge processors and Microsoft's Windows 8 OS will drive demand in both form factors in the commercial sector, said Mike Rosenstein, director of global commercial product pricing at Dell.

"We are very excited and want to be with Intel and Microsoft with both the OS and chipset and CPU technology as it evolves. We have lots of healthy discussion and there's lots of buzz around ultrabooks and tablets. We think both of those form factors will be a strong place in commercial environments," Rosenstein said.

Ultrabooks' smaller footprint and longer battery life will be significant upgrades from the traditional clam shell notebook and those features plus touch screen will also drive tablet demand, he said.

Rosenstein wouldn't say when Dell might expand products in those areas, nor if Dell plans to showcase any new devices at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, but he said Dell will expand its Latitude mobile offerings.

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"We can't get into specifics in terms of when, but we will march forward with time frames consistent with both Intel and Microsoft [roadmaps]," he said. "We've had a history of convertible tablets in the Latitude brand. We definitely see highly mobile devices going beyond the traditional clamshell and being a growing and increasingly important and new element of commercial computing. We want to make sure we are well positioned in that regard."

Rosenstein also wouldn't say if Dell planned to offer new devices on Google's Android platform, but hinted that customers will ultimately guide the decision of what products the company will carry.

"We have Windows. Our Latitude tablet solution is Windows. We certainly think the plans for Windows 8 offers tremendous value as we look forward in slate technology. We're very excited to partner with [Microsoft] on that," he said. "I can say we view ourselves as offering open capability and customer choice. That will be the guide in terms of the technology investments we make."

An overriding trend that Dell also expects to spur demand in both tablets and ultrabooks is the consumerization of IT or more employees bringing their own devices into the business space, Rosenstein said. As employees increasingly seek to access data and tools from outside the office and before and after the workday, businesses must be ready to provide that access in a secure and manageable model, he said.

"The real focus for that transformation of agenda is about making end users more productive, ensuring that the technology they have at their disposal can make them more productive," Rosenstein said. "What's embedded there is serving two customer sets, serving that end user with a great experience and allowing the IT professional to accomplish their goals. We put forward technology that if done well can meet both needs."

Next: End Users Have Stronger Voice In Technology Choice

The end user is becoming a stronger voice in the choice of technology that meets their needs in the workspace, he said.

"End user computing is no longer just about the device but the overall experience of the end user leveraging technology to access a growing proliferation of data across a variety of form factors. They need more access to more data with a greater variety of devices to access that data and have complementary factors not replacing form factors," Rosenstein said.

As consumer and commercial technologies start to overlap, Dell does not expect to merge its product families however. The Inspiron and XPS consumer lines and Latitude and Optiplex commercial lines will remain separate, but features of each likely will bleed into the other, Rosenstein said.

"We definitely believe there's a lot of strength in the brands we have and the ability to deliver against a brand promise tailored to consumers vs. midsize and large customers. But where the strengthening voice of the end user is being seen is the increased influence in a lot of the design innovation we're bringing to the consumer brand," Rosenstein said. "There might be a place for XPS notebooks for certain types of work and users within certain environments. We've made XPS notebooks more appealing to wrap around commercial opportunities. But you'll still see Latitude notebooks where we invest most strongly in manageability and secure computing."

Kristin Bent contributed to this article.