Dell Streak is not the droid you are looking for

Everything about this looks like a kludge. It's like the thing was run up the flagpole to see if anyone would salute it.

The Dell Streak is not the Android device you are looking for. (Picture from Miramax.)

At 5 inches (13 cm.) across it is neither fish-nor-fowl. It's only twice as wide as an iPhone, puny next to an iPad. It's about the size and shape of a GPS device, without the cradle you would use to clip-on your dashboard.

Inside it's running a 1 GHz chipset first seen on Netbooks. It could have been (probably should have been) a Windows box. The plan is to roll out 7 inch and 10 inch models in time, all running Google Android. At prices starting at $1,100, it's no bargain.

Everything about this looks like a kludge. The marketing is a kludge, because they don't know which of several markets they're selling. The specs are a kludge, because if you're rolling out the same chip set with different screen sizes why the bigger screen?

It's like the thing was run up the flagpole to see if anyone would salute it.

Another point, having more to do with open source. The Android distro is designed for phones. It's designed to compete with the iPhone, not the iPad. The still under-development Chromium system, based on Google Chrome, is designed to run the bigger stuff.

Dell seems to have jumped the gun on Chromium gear, fearing that will become the OS/2 to Android's Windows. (For history buffs, the original Microsoft-IBM deal was that IBM's operating system would run more powerful models. Microsoft just beefed up Windows and locked out IBM from below.)

But even if that is the case, Dell seems to be responding, and being driven by, technological change, not leading it. There is little indication it has a corporate strategy for the device, which would be pushed by its Perot Systems unit.

Dell's position seems to be that of Hugh Fennyman's character in Shakespeare in Love (played by Tom Wilkinson) -- they pretend to be the muscle but in the end they're the money, and as easily manipulated as any groundling in the pit.

That's not the kind of strong position a corporate customer wants their vendor to be playing in. You want your vendor to be Romeo in the play, not the apothecary.

I know the headline carries a Star Wars reference, and I've gone off into Tom Stoppard's recreation of 16th century London, but that's just how vague a strategy Dell seems to have here. They don't even know what millennium they're playing at.

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