US computer maker Dell Inc. has made a cloud computing acquisition and is also ramping up a line of tablet computers for 2011, according to a Reuters report that cites CEO Michael Dell as its source.
On Tuesday, Dell acquired Boomi, a cloud platform company. The move signals Dell's ambition to become more than just a computer seller. It wants to be an integrator that can help enterprises make the upcoming transition from having most of their backend servers in their own data centers to hosting many of those services in the cloud. This is a future-looking move.
The other future-facing move that Dell talked about on Tuesday was its tablet plan. At a speaking event in Korea, Dell said, "We're going to have a significant number of new tablets in the next year. There's lots of debate about the size of the market, who's buying these devices, and those questions always emerge when there's a new form factor."
So that sounds like Dell is planning a shotgun approach. It won't be focusing its efforts in one area but creating a bunch of different tablets in a variety of form factors and possibly powered by several different operating systems -- Android, Windows, and maybe even Chrome OS.
Dell's first stab at the tablet market, the 5-inch Dell Streak Android tablet (a 7-inch version is also expected by the end of 2010), was not very inspiring. The Streak was more like an oversized smartphone and didn't generate much enthusiasm in the market. As I said in my review of the Streak, the hardware wasn't bad. The biggest problem was the software, since Dell built the Streak (below) using the badly-outdated Android 1.6.
Now, it appears Dell could be looking to other partners for help with the software. On Tuesday, Reuters reported that Michael Dell noted that the feedback from his developers was that Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 software was easier to develop for than Google Android. There's been lots of speculation that Microsoft will adapt Windows Phone 7 for tablets and Dell was one of Microsoft's launch partners for WP7. So, if Microsoft is going to do a WP7 tablet, then it's a safe bet that Dell will be one of hardware partners.
For now, Dell is still committed to Android for its upcoming tablets, and will likely remain on board since Google is expected to announce tablet functionality as part of the next version of Android, codenamed Gingerbread.
Michael Dell commented, "What's interesting about the smartphone space is how it's changing into a more open-modular system. It's staggering that Android has now surpassed Apple in terms of [new activations] and this is happening at a much, much faster rate than what folks had envisioned."
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).