Apple Death Knell #55 - Dell Says iPad Will Fail in Enterprise

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Let me check my calendar. Hold on, it’s definitely 2011. For a moment, I thought it was 2001 or maybe even 1999. Why? Because a Dell executive is not only saying something that will embarrass and haunt him and his company for years to come, I actually get to make an addition to the Apple Death Knell Counter! Every time I think the ADKC is done, some idgit somewhere comes and saves the day.

Andy Lark on the iPadApple Death Knell #55 was uttered by one Andy Lark, Dell’s global head of marketing for large enterprises and public organizations (note that he’s not one of Dell’s chief corporate officers). In an interview with CIO magazine, Mr. Lark said that the iPad will fail in the enterprise market.

You know, the iPad, which is currently in use by 80% of the Fortune 100? Yeah, that’s the one; it’s going to fail in the enterprise space. This sort of prognostication is akin to Michael Dell saying that Apple should shut its doors, sell its assets, and give the money back to shareholders, or perhaps Michael Dell telling CNBC that “You don’t need stores to sell computers.”

I could list all manner of examples of Dell execs dismissing, criticizing, or otherwise insulting Apple, but this piece is about Mr. Lark’s claim that the iPad can’t hack it in enterprise, so let’s dig into that.

The marketing exec hinges his claim on two points. The first is that Apple costs too much and open is better and everyone knows that enterprise needs open and Apple is closed and closed sucks so we win.

OK, that’s a biased paraphrase, if you hadn’t already figured that out. What he actually said was, “Apple is great if you’ve got a lot of money and live on an island. It’s not so great if you have to exist in a diverse, open, connected enterprise; simple things become quite complex. [] We’ve taken a very considered approach to tablets, given that the vast majority of our business isn’t in the consumer space.”

Maybe my paraphrase wasn’t so biased.

He also gave Apple a pat on the butt, saying, “I couldn’t be happier that Apple has created a market and built up enthusiasm but longer term, open, capable and affordable will win, not closed, high price and proprietary. [Apple has] done a really nice job, they’ve got a great product, but the challenge they’ve got is that already Android is outpacing them.”

How exactly Android is outpacing Apple in the tablet space isn’t supported, but that’s only because you can’t support it. It’s unquestionable that Android has outpaced iPhone in the smartphone market (in terms of unit sales, Android is #1 in the U.S. and in the global market), but so far the iPad is crushing the competition in the tablet market. (I laid out my thoughts on why the tablet market is different from the smartphone market in an analysis piece earlier this month).

The other linchpin of Mr. Lark’s argument serves more to demonstrate why he’s a marketing exec and not an engineer: In arguing that Apple’s products are overpriced, he said, “An iPad with a keyboard, a mouse and a case [means] you’ll be at $1500 or $1600; that’s double of what you’re paying. That’s not feasible.”

I’ll tell you what’s not feasible, and that’s one Andy Lark landing a job as an accountant any time soon.

Firstly, the iPad is cheaper than the competition. There’s precisely one tablet with a starting price that matches Apple’s iPad 2 of US$499, and that’s the smaller 7” BlackBerry PlayBook that still hasn’t been released. Even there, the original iPad is still available and starts at $399. The 32GB WiFi-only Xoom, Motorola’s entry level into the tablet space, also matches the price of the 32GB WiFi-only iPad 2 at $599, but the 3G Xoom is $799, while Apple’s 32GB 3G iPad 2 is $729.

Everything else that’s actually shipping is priced higher and/or is smaller than Apple’s iPad. From Apple’s lock on the supply of key components to the volume advantage the company has on every other competitor, Apple is the Dell of the tablet space when it comes to price, while it remains the Apple of the tablet space when it comes to quality and experience.

Secondly, how in the hell is it even possible to spend “$1500 or $1600” on iPad, keyboard, mouse and case? De Bethune hasn’t announced an iPad case with a watch in it yet, and I challenge anyone to spend that much on even a 64GB 3G iPad 2 and those accessories.

Thirdly, who the hell needs a keyboard and mouse with an iPad? That is a mind-bogglingly stupid thing to say. In fact, this may well be the single most stupid statement to come out of Dell. Ever. It’s even more stupid than Michael Dell claiming to be the first PC maker to support on-board WiFi in a laptop.

I’ll posit once again that Apple is going to remain the price leader on tablets for the near future, and that it’s going to take a significant, or even a severe compromise on quality and/or features for anyone to be able to out-price Apple in this market.

While both of us are looking into the future with our claims, the difference between my claim and Dell marketing dude Andy Lark’s claim is that what I’m saying is actually supported by reality on the ground today, whereas both of Mr. Lark’s principle claims are specifically refuted by reality.

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Good for a laugh, and I like the good ol’ Apple Death Knell counter, so we gotta have people saying stupid things to keep it going!

Well argued Bryan, BTW.


I miss the word “beleaguered.” Can we get it into Death Knell # 56?


It’s ok. Don’t get upset people. Dell is failing on Wall Street.
It’s obvious he’s not very good at math, his figures don’t add up.
And really, a mouse with an iPad? Whisky Tango Foxtrot.


PS, I ordered an 32G Wi-Fi iPad, AppleCare, the DockToVGA connector, Black Smart Cover, and digital AV adapter.

My entire order came to $815.

Where DOES he get his source info?


I do like the word stupid. It’s not a reflective measure of intelligence. It’s just a description of one’s thinking process when out to lunch. This Dell dude is stupid to ignore the facts and the history you outlined.

One point you missed, my friend, is that Apple may have been outsold in unit number; it certainly hasn’t been in profits. Last I heard it made somewhere in the 90 percent family of numbers for smart phones. But I do not mind standing correction.

The iPad is not from the same planet as the smart phone. While mobile phones are chosen according to its basic function with the spice of taste, and the reality of the pocketbook, they are just phones for practical use with some wiz bang stuff that some need and others don’t. They are communication devices; tin cans with long strings for connecting.

The iPads is beyond the single purpose devices with added tinsel and whistles. It is multifaceted, evolving macro experiences where the medium is the message and the unintended is not to be found in any handbook. Focusing on the obvious will not find answers. It is the extension of possibilities that makes the iPad a revolution in the making which is what Messrs Dell Mouth and Google Tinker and other copyists just don’t get.

They think it is just a tablet computer which is the road, in their ignorance, they shall travel by, while Apple will take the road of evolving (not just changing) dynamics that the innovation brings with it.


My entire order came to $815.

Where DOES he get his source info?

I think he’s adding in metric.


I know who will fail in the Enterprise: Dell
In our company we have some old Dell desktops. As they fail they are being replaced with HPs.
We had some Dell Laptops. They’ve all failed and were replaced with Lenovo’s
We have some Dell servers. When they finally die they will be replaced with some other brand.

Dell used to be fairly good in the Win-World. However now Dell is known for lousy systems, me-too engineering, overpriced proprietary parts, terrible customer service, and general low quality and unreliability.

When people ask me what to get, if they are looking for a Windows machine I start with “avoid Dell”. Then we talk about what they need.

This moronic statement is why Dell is fading. They pushed the generic cheap PC as far as they could. The world and market has changed and they are clueless as to what to do.

Time to close the place up and give the money back to the shareholders.


I got up to $1201 ordering a 64GB WiFi/3G AT&T, with black leather cover (only one cover) and one of everything else listed on the Store page except for a printer. Shipping is free and tax depends on where you live so add another 10% and I’m still only at $1321. I guess I could get to $1500-$1600 but getting a different cover for every day of the week.

This is a lot of money for a tablet but I really don’t need everything and if I bought more than one iPad, I could always share some of the accessories.

Plus, when my iPad is no longer usable, the aluminum shell is 100% recyclable while the garbage Dell uses to build their excuse for a computer is a combination of cheap plastic and sheet metal. Do I hear landfill?

Lee Dronick

And really, a mouse with an iPad? Whisky Tango Foxtrot.

Military phonetic spelling, were you in the Service?

Anyway, maybe a keyboard for the ipad if you are doing a lot of text entry. In that case you are probably better off with a MacBook of some sort. A mouse can not even currently connected to an iPad.


OK, let’s take the cheapest DELL laptop… How much to add a touchscreen, gyroscope, GPS, 3G card?

Oh and how much to add Word, Excel and Powerpoint? More than the $30 I spent on Pages, Numbers and Keynote?

Yeah, where do you sign up for a job like these jokers have? It’s obvious you don’t need to know anything about the industry you are in.


It is indeed fun to remember the ad ...

“Dude, you’re getting a Dell”

and think of how that has changed.


While I agree that this guy is an idiot, I believe he made those comments in Australia and was probably using Australian dollars. Even so you would be hard pressed to spend A$1500-1600 as he suggests.

Lee Dronick

I believe he made those comments in Australia

That explains the upside down logic.

Yes, we need to take the exchange rate into account


NO ! Counting Australian prices doesn’t explain it.

The quote is ...

An iPad with a keyboard, a mouse and a case [means] you?ll be at $1500 or $1600; that?s double of what you?re paying.

He’s saying that necessary extras will DOUBLE the price.

Well, they would with a Dell. But not with iPad.


I got up to $1201 ordering a 64GB WiFi/3G AT&T, with black leather cover (only one cover) and one of everything else listed on the Store page except for a printer.

That’s nothing.  I got up to $22,700 for a Mac Pro system.  12 cores with all the goodies.

And no jab from Dell about those overpriced Macs? wink


That?s nothing.  I got up to $22,700 for a Mac Pro system.  12 cores with all the goodies.

If you buy a stock configuration I expect you’ll find that it is less expensive than the equivalent Dell. I did that test on Dell’s web site about a year ago and Mac Pro was several hundred cheaper.

Of course, you can get a less-capable machine for less money but if that meets your needs then it’s a win. Dell does do better with options and configurability.


While I agree that this guy is an idiot, I believe he made those comments in Australia and was probably using Australian dollars. Even so you would be hard pressed to spend A$1500-1600 as he suggests.

Hey! Have you seen the exchange Aust$/US$ rate lately ?
Currently it’s at/near a historic high!

Martin Hill

Yes the Aussie dollar is currently = US$1.03

The cheapest iPad is Aus$579 and the most expensive is Aus$949.

Dell’s Andy Lark has no excuse.

oh, and you North Americans are the ones who are all upside down.  wink



oh, and you North Americans are the ones who are all upside down

And “Colour” does have a “u” in it.

Danged furriners!



The constant “open” comments are really funny. Windows open? Ha! Android open? Nope. What’s open then? Michael Dell’s slack-jawed mouth as he watches his company waste away?

It’s really sad to hear someone poo-poo another company for innovating when we all know Dell can’t innovate it’s way out of a paper bag.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Firstly, the iPad is cheaper than the competition.

Yesterday’s news, Bryan… The ASUS Transformer just landed at Best Buy’s website for $399. And it is super dope.

HDMI sans dongle, dockable into keyboard base that charges the tablet, ASUS focussing on content creation, IPS panel, Gorilla Glass, and a battery indicator to die for!

(Note: Direct link to Engadget was blacklisted.)


Bryan, a mouse isn’t even supported on an iPad yet. That’s how rediculous that statement by Andy was.


ASUS Transformer may be listed at BestBuy’s web site, and that says $399.99.

It also says “Coming Soon”

How soon is “Soon” ??

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

How soon is ?Soon? ??

Considering SlashGear got a review unit… Perhaps sooner than many will be receiving iPad 2’s they have already ordered grin.


Maybe. We’ll see.

On a related-but-separate note, I see that ASUS’s Board just fired their President/CEO.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

On a related-but-separate note, I see that ASUS?s Board just fired their President/CEO.


You guys are seeing the beginning of the Android tablet onslaught. Watch carefully, because even if you do, you will still have no idea what happened in 6 months. Just like phones.


No. In Board-speak “resigns amid disagreement” is being fired. Obviously I don’t know what transpired in that room but I would guess that there was ongoing disagreement, as there has been for months, and finally the Board asked for his resignation.

Now, about that “onslaught”. This is weird, but the BestBuy listing for the tablet is gone. Poof. Zilch. Look for “ASUS Transformer” and I get zero hits. Look for ASUS Transformer without the quotes and I get laptops and desktops and even Lou Reed, but no $399.99 tablet. It *was* there but it’s not now.


Bosco (Brad Hutchings)


Yes. Wrong company. You are talking about Acer, not ASUS.


Sorry - you’re quite right right. My bad.

I double-checked to be sure about the BestBuy listing in case I goofed on that too. But no, it is indeed gone.



There is a war going on. The tablet war. It is a war on two fronts: platform and hardware. Both are critical for the success of the tablet.

One of the oft-underappreciated weapons of war is propaganda. It is a powerful tool, if wielded in the hands of a master of the craft. While I am not asserting that Mr Lark is an expert by any means, he is engaged in that time-honoured profession of propaganda, and he has ticked two of its principal boxes.

First, it needs to inspire the troops. His basic message, the enterprise is safe; Apple cannot compete here, but we can, we do and we will prevail. Keep it short on specifics, offer just enough to reinforce core themes, such as “open, capable and affordable will win, not closed, high price and proprietary”. Code: ‘We will prevail, not Apple’. And, “We’e taken a considered approach to tablets…” Code to the troops: ‘Whatever appearances may be, we’re not asleep at the wheel and we’re actively working the problem. Hold the line, help is on the way’. And even if help is delayed, “already Android is outpacing them (Apple)”.  By the way, the bit about, “I couldn?t be happier that Apple has created a market and built up enthusiasm…” reinforces the image of strength, i.e., Apple are no challenge to us. A nice touch, deftly played.

Second, it needs to instil fear, uncertainty and doubt into the enemy and the non-alligned. Again, use core themes where possible. Not only will ‘closed and proprietary’ (NB: he does not define these) lose, ‘consider all the money you will spend on this inevitably doomed proposition’ (paraphrasing). He does not need to be correct on his maths, in fact he does not want to be. This is war. One of his principal audiences here are those IT wonks who are defecting to the enemy. Stop them! If they cannot stop themselves, then we’ll scare the bean counters into stopping them for us. He knows that you do not need a mouse to run an iPad (or a keyboard for that matter), but who uses these? Those IT wonks and bean counters from whom he’s trying to scare the bejeezus, that’s who. It’s just kit; forget the specifics. Like all devices, you’ll need peripherals (he chose peripherals his target audience knows well), and those are going to break the bank! All he needs to do is to put fear into those waverers, and he’s done his job. To the enemy, the message is unmistakable: ‘You’re on our turf, and we have the tactical advantage. You are going to lose’. Makes one want to surrender while you still can, doesn’t it?

I’d say his message says more about Dell than it does about Apple. Dell have a skunkworks. Very likely, they are busily working on their (hopefully successful) secret weapon (Streak2?), as we speak. They just need to buy some time, shore up the troops, intimidate the opposition.

If that was his objective, his message wasn’t half bad.

Lee Dronick


Good observation.

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