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article imageAgility in Tech: Verizon to Offer Netbooks, Dell to Make Phones

By Michael Krebs     Mar 28, 2009 in Technology
Verizon Wireless is planning to offer netbooks and Dell has smart phones on the horizon. Is this agility good for technology markets - or is it just plain confusing?
I have AT&T service on my Blackberry smart device; Verizon FiOS triple-play television, Internet and telephony services for my home; an Apple iMac desktop; a work-issued Dell laptop; a Garmin GPS device for the longer-haul bicycle rides; a Sharp flat-screen television; two Canon digital cameras; two iPods; an HP color printer...
It is likely that I need to look at some brand cross-over and consolidation just to set things right. But the offerings are becoming more diverse - and unlikely brand names are appearing on products and services that they did not offer only months before.
The technology and telecommunications sectors have always been associated with agility, but are these cross-over approaches creating brand dilution and consumer confusion?
On Friday, Verizon Wireless announced their intentions to sell netbooks - as early as next quarter, according to Bloomberg.
"The devices are being developed with more than one PC maker," a Verizon Wireless contact told Bloomberg.
Wireless providers have come to rely on the robust abilities of device manufacturers, as U.S. consumers continually demand faster data usage versus voice needs. These demands are pushing telecommunications providers into more complicated co-op relationships with device manufacturers. A recent co-op marketing splash between Verizon Wireless and Research In Motion's Blackberry Storm does not appear to have been entirely successful, and this could be a factor in the netbook move by Verizon Wireless.
Similarly, Dell has indicated an interest in entering the crowded smart phone market.
According to a BusinessWeek report, "Dell CEO Michael Dell has done little to dispel rumors that his company is working on a mobile computing device. In fact, he all but confirmed them while traveling in Japan on Mar. 24 when he said: 'It is true that we are exploring smaller-screen devices.'"
What are we to make of this? Maybe there is nothing to make of it. Heck, Samsung makes refrigerators. But still, the Dell decision seems a bit frenetic and confusing and convoluted.
Citing the BusinessWeek story, "Rival PC makers such as Acer, Asus, and Lenovo have all jumped into the smartphone market. Palm (PALM) is about to release a much anticipated device, the Palm Pre. Apple is expected to unveil a dramatic hardware upgrade to its iPhone this summer."
Too many choices yields a commodity environment. It could be that this fragmentation is where the technology sector wants to operate, providing small tastes of brand products and services with a bigger eye on brand loyalty. But loyalties in a diffuse market are few.
More about Verizon, Dell, Netbook, Smart phone, Hardware
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