Dell on Tuesday launched its Adamo effort, a thin laptop that is all about design and puts the PC maker in a new realm on the perception front. It's unclear whether people---especially Dell's fashion-impaired base--- will actually buy it.
Adamo means to "covet" or "fall in love with" and that's fine. However, that love comes at a price: $1,999 to be exact for starters and $2,699 for a higher end model (there are "optional luxury packages"). Simply put, Adamo arrives as netbooks are the fastest growing portion of the PC market---because they are cheap.
Gallery: Hands-on with the Dell Adamo
Dell's Adamo has some nice design features: unibody construction, its thin, etched aluminum, 13.4-inch glass wide screen display (see Dell blog, statement, Techmeme). Adamo has been compared to the MacBook Air and the pitch on Dell's site features this fashion model type of approach. The problem: I already feel left out because I'm kind of unfashionable and won't be confused with a GQ subscriber---or former member of the Men's Vogue club heaven forbid.
Adamo's site is broken up into parts: Encounter, Discover, Admire and Commit. It'a all kind of breathless. And it's all so 2006 and 2007, maybe first half of 2008 before everything unraveled. The irony: Dell's fashion statement comes as high end retailers like Nordstrom are pitching value. Something is amiss here. Are we in the mood for laptop luxury packages?
Don't get me wrong, Adamo looks swell. I'm just not so sure that the design first approach will work right now. Value matters. Value for performance really matters. In fact, the messaging Dell has had forever may be what matters most today.
Instead, we get a fashion show.
And maybe fashion sells. Rafe Needleman says:
The Adamo is clean. Unlike almost every other Windows laptop you can buy, it has no "Designed for Windows" or "Intel Inside" stickers glued to the palm rest. Turn it over, and instead of a jigsaw puzzle of FCC approval stickers, serial number tags, and Microsoft certifications, there's a metal builder's plate with Dell, Intel, and Microsoft logos subtly printed on it. There's even a special magnetic cover hiding a required licensing sticker.
Oooh. Ahhhh. But let's give credit where it's due. Dell is good at design now and Adamo proves it. Dell can actually be stylish. The problem is that you need a customer base that covets that approach and I'm not sure Dell has it. Apple's strength is that it has a few million customers that will buy anything it puts out---because it's either a fashion statement or the brand says something about them.
The turn Dell is trying to make is a tough one right now. That said Adamo looks interesting, but probably too fashionable for the price.