Dell Streak too expensive for India… here’s why

Dell has released its tablet/smartphone called Dell Streak in India and it costs 35,000 rupees (US$790). And I find that very expensive.

India is a country which has 69 billionaires, 300 million people in middle class which is brimming with disposable income and 800 million people who are living on less than a dollar per day. In effect, India is a country within a country within a country. Remember Inception?

But there is one thing which combines all Indians when it comes to buying products. Price. In other words, value for money is what every Indian would look at. From Ambani to aam-aadmi, everyone is price conscious. Have you seen any Indian company buying an overseas company at a premium? Have you seen an Indian company buying out an overseas company for few million dollars? I have. The most recent I can recall is Ybrant buying Lycos for $36 million.

Many people have come with different aspirations but  gone with the same conclusion. A new entrant can enter a crowded market in India and gain more than a foothold by just concentrating on price alone. If you are not convinced then the recent success of Tata DoCoMo and Micromax should be a case study.

Here’s to whoever wants to sell products in India : It’s the price. Stupid. (by the way,that was from me and not from Bill Clinton). I cannot stress it enough. You have to get the price right.

If someone uses the term ‘skimming strategy’ for this mistake, then I would say this : You can’t skim the skimmer.

Dell’s Streak, a 5 inch touch screen slate which you can talk to, is in no man’s land. It’s neither an iPad nor a Netbookish device. It is too big to be called as a mobile phone and too small to be a tablet. I am fine with not getting the features right, not getting the size right is not acceptable. If segmentation (a new category between iPad and iPhone) is what Dell is looking at then, it is too soon and India is the wrong market.

Besides Dell is not known for being expensive. What Dell is really known for is sturdy stuff like the Inspiron and Latitude series you sell or lease to many IT companies in India. If it is a decent sized tablet then Dell could have leveraged its sturdiness.

Dell Streak doesn’t have the first mover advantage either. India already knows about iPad. Indians with connections will own an iPad. Indians without connections would buy a OlivePad from Croma stores for 25,000 rupees. Indians who have waited for both iPad and OlivePad would be buying a Binatone Home Surf for 9000 rupees. The rest would be waiting for India’s $35 tablet, which is real by the way. Oh! Wait! There’s no segment left to buy the Dell Streak. Is there?

I have to appreciate one thing about Dell Streak’s launch though. It did not ignore India. Apple ignored India. Amazon never bothered. India’s very own Notion Ink has a US only strategy. But not Dell.

I spent quite a lot of time on Dell Streak’s price and none about its features. It’s not fair. So here we go :

  • Price : 34, 999 rupees. (I promise. This is the last time)
  • Sharp 5-inch capacitive multi-touch Gorilla glass WVGA (800 480) display
  • 1GHz Snapdragon ARM-based mobile processor from Qualcomm
  • UMTS / GPRS / EDGE class 12 GSM radio with link speeds of HSDPA 7.2 Mbps / HSUPA
  • 5 MP auto focus camera with dual LED flash
  • VGA front-facing camera enables video chat functionality down the road
  • User-removable (and replaceable) battery
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Integrated 3G + Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) + Bluetooth 2.1 (think headsets, external keyboards, stereo headsets, etc.)
  • Micro SD slot expandable up to 32GB. (Source)

Dell Streak is available with a Tata DoCoMo post paid connection which gives 500 MB free data download for six months. It should work with other service providers as vendor lock-in is not something Indians approve of. Streak will be upgrading to Android’s Froyo operating system by end of this year. Dell Streak sports a Gorilla glass which is an innovation from Corning. Think of it as the unbreakable kind which is designed to touch at will and drop a few times. 

Here’s a video :

It looks like a lovely device.