Dell Kills Its Android Tablet Business

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The underground marketplace is booming and only getting bigger, more sophisticated, and competitiv

Dell says that slate-style tablets aren't good enough for productivity and will focus on Windows 2-in-1, or detachable, devices.

Dell says slates stink, so it's sayonara! The company is abandoning its Android tablet business altogether, and will shrink its Windows slate business to reflect the changing needs of the marketplace. Dell will instead focus its efforts on 2-in-1, or detachable, devices.

Dell's Kirk Schell lays it on the line pretty bluntly.

"Let's face it: tablets simply cannot match the PC's processing power, flexibility and ability to generate the most productivity to turn creative thoughts into tangible results," Schell wrote in a blog post. "The one constant feature across all of the devices people choose for work is that they must enable productivity. While there will always be a need for niche devices and certain features for specific computing tasks, we've found that the lack of productivity delivered by slate tablets are forcing people to leave them at home, and instead continue to use PCs to get real work done."

Dell is giving up on Google's Android platform entirely. The company killed off its Venue-branded Android smartphones way back in 2012. Dell is now doing the same for its Venue-branded Android tablets. If you own such a device, Dell will honor existing warranties and service contracts, but it will no longer push out any system updates.

Moving forward, Dell says it plans to build more detachable devices that act primarily as a PC, but can also act like a slate when necessary. Moreover, Dell will focus on Windows as its primary operating system.

Amazon, Apple, HP, Lenovo, and others shipped 34.7 million slates during the first quarter, giving slates 87.6% of the entire tablet market, according to the latest numbers from IDC. Detachables, such as Microsoft's SurfaceBook, saw triple-digit growth year-over-year, jumping to 4.9 million units, or 12.4% of the market.

"With the PC industry in decline, the detachable market stands to benefit as consumers and enterprises seek to replace their aging PCs with detachables," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers. "Apple's recent foray into this segment [with the 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch iPad Pros] has garnered them an impressive lead in the short term, although continued long-term success may prove challenging as a higher entry price point staves off consumers and iOS has yet to prove its enterprise-readiness, leaving plenty of room for Microsoft and their hardware partners to reestablish themselves."

[See iPad Pro 9.7 May Be Apple's Best Tablet Yet .]

That's exactly what Dell intends to do. Schell suggests that slates may be fine for checking email, glancing at the internet, or writing short articles, but firmly believes most businesses require "substantially more computing power than that."

Dell won't put mobility ahead of productivity, especially since that's what its customers want. The company says 2-in-1s offer all the productivity of PCs in a more flexible form factor that still delivers reasonable value and the enterprise-class security today's businesses demand.

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