After a year in which the UK vendor rankings have been shaken up on the strength of netbook sales, Andrew Wooden talks to David Clifton, director of consumer marketing at Dell Europe, about the sector and the firm's position in the UK channel...

Dell-ivering the goods

Netbook sales have exploded, and have been a huge factor in boosting the entire industry – how important have they been to Dell in comparison to other product categories?
The Inspiron Mini 9 is a very popular product for us, and we have just launched the Inspiron Mini 12 Internet companion. The netbook category has ignited interest among customers that we may not have reached in the past.

They can’t be compared to other product categories because they reach different audiences and have different uses. In terms of netbooks and traditional laptops, we see them as complementing each other. Netbooks are internet companions, perfect for connectivity on the go, but they are not intended to be primary computers.

Are you noticing a consumer buying trend towards lower priced products in general in the current economic downturn?
Many customers are increasingly cost-conscious in these turbulent times, but we see this more in terms of value for money. Customers are always looking for value, and want to see that their purchasing decisions will provide them with the functionality and technology they require at a competitive price point.

Are you planning to expand your retail product lines over the coming year?

True to Dell’s heritage of building direct relationships, each deal struck with retail represents a unique approach that links products with a ‘customer set’ and the one retailer. We view retail agreements as strategic partnerships, and are always looking for opportunities where we see a good fit.

Are there any plans to open any Dell-exclusive stores here in the UK, of the type that have been seen in India?

Dell’s strategy in India is different than in the UK. Working with major retailers has been beneficial to our customers and has helped us grow our business. We will not comment on speculative questions about the future.

Acer has recently taken the number one vendor spot in EMEA, thanks in part to strong netbook sales. Does Dell have any plans to make similar gains in this way?

We’re focused on providing good value and service to our customers over the long-term.

Have you noticed a drop in desktop sales at all, in parallel with the rise in mobile PC sales across the industry?
Customers continue to buy desktop computers for entertainment, gaming and productivity tools. We’ve recently launched new Dell and Alienware desktops to address this space.

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