Another chapter in the ongoing consolidation of the tablet market — specifically in the area of those many Android vendors that have failed to pick up critical mass for their products. It looks like Dell may be the latest to pull out of selling Android tablets — in the U.S. at least — which could be setting up the company further for a tablet strategy based around Windows 8 from Microsoft.
Dell has stopped advertising the Streak 7, the larger of its two Android tablets, on its website. According to a statement from the company (via Electronista), where Dell notes in the past tense that the Streak 7 “delivered” a unique experience, it may be pulling out of the market for making them altogether. However, it did also indicate that it will continue to sell the seven-inch Streak in some markets like Australia, as well as the 10-inch version in China.
This follows on from the company also discontinuing the sale of the Streak 5.
It’s not clear that either product sold all that well, but at least for the seven-inch variety of the tablet, the endgame was probably made clearer than ever when Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) launched its own seven-inch Kindle Fire tablet, which came loaded up with content options and cost less than $200.
What’s slightly confusing, though, is what plans Dell has for Android overall. In October, reports began to emerge that said Dell might not launch any Windows Phone 7.5 devices, and questioned what the company’s longer-term plans were for its smartphones.
We have contacted Dell to clarify this and will update the post as we learn more.
Dell is reportedly one of the companies interested in making tablets using Windows 8 from Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), although the company has not admitted as much publicly yet. In the statement on Electronista, it more generally noted that it “remain[ed] committed to expanding our reach beyond PCs with a targeted set of open, standards-based mobility solutions.”
What that would also mean, effectively, is that the company is also going on hiatus from tablets: Windows 8 will not be out until next year and it will probably be only by the middle of the year at the earliest that we will start to see the first devices built on the new platform. Other device makers that have been linked to Windows 8 for tablets include Nokia (NYSE: NOK) as well as HP.
But in that respect, Dell and its OEM colleagues may be in for some challenges. Some analysts believe that Microsoft has missed the boat already in the tablet game, with consumer interest in a tablet using Windows nearly halved in the last year, to 25 percent from 46 percent, according to Forrester.
Besides that, those OEMs will still have to navigate the same issue that hampered so many Android tablet makers: rushing headlong into a product without really thinking through the larger ecosystem and other costs in building a sustainable business on the device.