Dell tries again with a $999 laptop

The company has repeatedly tried to light a fire with consumers, but with no real success. Will a new laptop change that?

By Kim Peterson May 23, 2011 3:11PM
After losing the consumer dollar to Apple (AAPL) over and over again, Dell (DELL) is back for another try.

The company is releasing a $999 laptop this week that looks an awful lot like another attempt to take down the MacBook Air. And with the new device, Dell is hoping one more time that it can finally make inroads with shoppers who have repeatedly rebuffed and ignored it.

Dell has missed the mark in just about every consumer-electronics category: smartphones, tablets, digital music players and sharp-looking laptops. It can't out-Apple Apple, and so now it's trying a different strategy: Going after the "prosumer."

By the way, which is a better buy, Dell or Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)? Jim Cramer makes the call in the following video. Post continues after video:
So what's a prosumer? It's the professional and the consumer combined, The Wall Street Journal reports. It's the business type who uses the same devices at home. Dell has managed to keep its business customer intact -- corporate business is doing quite well, in fact -- and it's using that base as a starting point for the prosumer strategy.

A key step in that strategy will be unveiled tomorrow in the form of a 15-inch laptop that Dell says will be the thinnest one on the planet. The company isn't saying much more today, but Engadget thinks that Dell is debuting the 15.6-inch XPS 15z.

Dell was developing another line of laptops this year, but pulled the plug on them, the Journal reports. And the company pulled the plug on its Adamo laptop -- its last attempt to compete with the MacBook Air -- earlier this year. Introducing the $2,000 Adamo in a recession wasn't the best idea.

Dell said that consumer sales in its first quarter fell by 7% from a year earlier.

So can Dell revive its consumer business with an ultra-thin laptop? We'll find out more tomorrow.

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