Dell hints at a move into wearable tech

Vice president of global computing says the company is 'exploring ideas in that space'
  • @jjvincent

Embattled computer-makers Dell have revealed they’re considering producing wearable computing devices.

Speaking to The Guardian, Dell's global vice-president of personal computing Sam Burd said that the company was “exploring ideas in that space.”

“Looking ahead five years, we expect devices and form factors to continue to change. There will still be a need for 'static' computing on desktops, but there will be a real need for mobile devices,” said Burd.

“There's a lot of discussion about how that fits into wearable devices like we've seen with Google Glass and watches. We're looking at a world of lots of connected devices.”

The recent explosion of popularity for wearable technology has come from the rise of both fitness technology like the Jawbone UP and Nike FuelBand that help consumers’ monitor their health, and the vogue for smartwatches, that offer limited smartphone-like functionality.

Add to this the continual headline-grabbing antics of Google Glass and you have a confusing mix of devices. “"I don't see any magic new form factor like the iPad – I don't think anybody saw how that was going to change devices,” said Burd.

"There are challenges in cost, and how to make it a really good experience. But the piece that's interesting is that computers are getting smaller. Having a watch on your wrist – that's pretty interesting, pretty appealing."

Meanwhile, Dell are feeling the decline of the PC market keenly. With falling revenue matching only the slumped demand for traditional computers, the company announced a leveraged buyout of the company in February of this year by founder Michael Dell.

The buyout was set at $24.4bn but recently company directors have asked for more money, indicating that the board no longer feels confident that the deal will find shareholder approval when it comes to the vote on July 18.

Speaking with the Guardian, Burd felt that the move was right for company: “Michael Dell believes we are on the right page for transformation. The view is that we can get ourselves out of the quarterly reporting process where you can't make hard decisions to speed up that transformation."

Whilst the company has attempted to move away from traditional tower PCs with its XPS-10 and Latitude 10 tablets (they run Windows RT and Windows 8 respectively), sales have been less than hearty, only in the “hundreds of thousands.”

Recent statistics from industry analysts Gartner showed that the number of tablet devices was set to more than double to around 270,000,000 by 2014 whilst the sale of PC devices contracted. It’s also been predicted that by 2016 there should be around 40 million smartwatches sold.

With these numbers in mind, it seems that tablets, not wearables, would be the smart focus for the beleaguered Dell. However, with the margin of entry into the wearable market lower than continuing to pump out high quality tablets, perhaps it’s a case of any port in a storm.