Dell reinforces mobile strategy

Dell Inc. announced enhancements to its Axim family of personal digital assistants (PDAs) on Wednesday, while reaffirming its commitment to wireless technology in the future.

According to one analyst, choosing standards-based devices -like Dell’s new Axim X3 family of products – is the way companies seeking mobile solutions should go in this time of rapidly changing wireless technologies.

Dell’s Tony Bonadero, director of wireless and handheld products said the company is using 2003 to culminate phase one of its plan, which is to “drive internal notebook wireless solutions.” An example of this “drive” is with the introduction of Axim X3.

According to Dell, the X3 is available in three configurations: a $529 model with integrated wireless capability and two non-wireless configurations starting at $349.

Features included in the Axim product line: Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 software for Pocket PC including pocket versions of Microsoft Outlook, Word and Excel, Internet Explorer, MSN Messenger and Windows Media Player; an Intel Xscale processor at 300MHz or 400MHz; one secure digital input/output (I/O) slot; and optional integrated Wi-Fi 802.11b capability.

The $349 Axim X3 model has the same configurations as its predecessor, the X5, but like the rest of the X3 family, is slimmer and lighter than the X5 – which is still available. It also comes equipped with a 300MHz processor, 32MB of RAM and 32MB of ROM.

At the next two levels, the $469 and $529 models are equipped with 400MHz processors, 64MB of RAM and 64 MB of ROM, but unlike the more expensive product, the $469 model has no wireless connectivity built into the device.

Over the course of the next two years, Dell plans to continue to push for standardization around security with wireless LAN 802.11 and secure worldwide dual-band offerings, Bonadero said, adding that Dell plans to continue with and extend the Axim product line.

Historically, fuzzy value propositions for businesses and a lack of compelling applications for consumers have held back wide adoption of wireless products, said Warren Wilson, a practice director focusing on enterprise mobility solutions at Summit Strategies Inc. in Seattle.

Wilson described wireless over the past few years as being “one of those technologies whose boom was always stuck somewhere just over the horizon,” and cited security and cost as being major roadblocks for the technology.

That said however, Wilson added that although those worries are still quite real, developments are now being made “that have been making wireless solutions steadily more attractive.”

The devices, applications and networks have all been evolving, rapidly becoming more powerful and easy to use,” Wilson said. “Standardization has made it easier to buy and connect wireless devices especially in Wi-Fi.”

He added that the adoption of 802.11 standards in the home office and hot spot market have created a circle of adoption where one market helps drive the others.

Devices and software increasingly have wireless capabilities built in and it’s becoming just like dial tone – wireless is now something that users expect to be there, Wilson explained.

The wireless market and solutions are still changing rapidly, and in that kind of environment it makes a lot of sense to stick with standards-based solutions, Wilson said.

“They provide the safest route to flexibility and interoperability, they give customers the broadest range of choice and help them avoid technology dead ends.”

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