Why PCs still matter to Dell: the XPS story

PC giant sheds insight into its XPS line and how it stands out in a “post-PC” market

Xtreme Performance System (XPS): Dell aims for the upper range of the PC market with its XPS brand

Xtreme Performance System (XPS): Dell aims for the upper range of the PC market with its XPS brand

Until now, a typical user may have encountered a Dell PC through the vendor's enterprise Optiplex range or consumer Inspiron line.

While the Optiplex and Inspiron lines were affordable solutions, in recent years the vendor has attempted to upscale its PC products under the XPS moniker.

It is a move that Dell XPS A/NZ brand manager, Celine de la Rochefordiere, said has worked out well for the vendor.

“Global sales of the XPS 13 Ultrabook have been more than two times our original projections,” she said.

As for what role the XPS brand holds within Dell, Rochefordiere says it intersects the needs of consumer design preferences and powerful performance.

“Many XPS users depend on technology on a daily basis to stay connected, be productive and for higher end content and multimedia creation as well as consumption,” she said.

“The products under the XPS brand meet those needs.”

An interesting development that Dell has noticed with the XPS line is that businesses are starting to consider XPS products as BYOD devices.

To meet this demand, she said XPS products are now including “enterprise-friendly” features, such as configuration services and trusted platform modules (TPM).

All for one

While Dell has been using the XPS brand for Ultrabooks, it has also thrown its gauntlet down in the emerging all-in-one (AIO) desktop space, notably with the XPS One 27.

As for why Dell is pursuing this still relatively niche market, Rochefordiere said it is because market acceptance of the AIO form factor continues to gain momentum.

“Today, 14.5 million AIO desktops are sold worldwide, so we certainly see this as an area of huge potential for the business,” she said.

Rochefordiere said customers had told Dell they want to have a big screen desktop PC experience “without a bulky tower or lots of cables.”

“They like a nice, clean design aesthetic in a desktop they’re proud to have in their living room,” she said.

Dell expects the inclusion of new touch capabilities in Microsoft’s Windows 8, as well as recent hardware innovations such as large IPS (In-Plane Switching) screens and quad core Intel processors, driving further interest in the growing AIO product segment.

I’m still here

Dell may be busy up-scaling PCs with the XPS brand, but industry pundits are currently wondering where the PC will go from here, especially when more and more attention is being paid to tablets

According to Rochefordiere, Dell’s philosophy around technology for end users is comprised of two core beliefs, with the first one being that “no single device is applicable for everything.”

“We’re moving from a PC-centric approach to a multi-device and solutions-focused strategy,” she said.

“It’s not just about the device, but also the solutions that surround it that make a difference to our customers, whether that’s for optimum productivity in the workplace or staying connected and organised in the home.”

For this reason, Rochefordiere expects the device will continue to be a customer’s gateway to information, no matter where that information may be stored.

As such, she reiterates that Dell remains committed to the PC business regardless of the perceived rise of media tablets and the like.

“[Dell] will continue to grow based on industry innovation and our customers’ needs,” she said.

Beyond pure computer design, Rochefordiere says that the vendor will focus on making their products “purposeful,” or elegant albeit with a purpose, in order to meet the diverse needs of its customers.

The other aspect of Dell’s philosophy towards PCs is the importance it sees in a solutions-based approach.

By this, Rochefordiere said it is important to not only provide the devices, but also the relevant tools to secure and manage hardware, software and data.

Instead of viewing the rise of media tablets as a challenge, she said they are more like "complementary devices for enterprise, small and medium business users."

This mindset even extends to regular consumers, who may seek an "ecosystem of devices" to create and consume both personal and professional content.

“We believe that different devices have different footprints and usage models,” Rochefordiere said.

The power of touch

With the run-up to the Windows 8 launch, Dell has been quite busy on the PC front, releasing the XPS One 27 and XPS 13, 14 and 15 on the market.

With all of these solutions now on the market, the attention now is what Dell will do next with its XPS line.

Dell seems to be aware of this attention, as at the IFA trade show in Berlin in September, the vendor revealed several non-conventional products, such as the XPS Duo 12 convertible Ultrabook, the XPS 10 tablet, and an upgraded XPS One 27 that includes touch screen functionality.

“Each product in the XPS portfolio meets a specific customer need, and we’ll continue having a tailored approach to the XPS line to best meet the varying needs of our customers,” Rochefordiere said.

The release of Windows 8 this year has been a key driver for change in the PC market, and she said it has been no different on the Dell front.

In fact, she foresees the release of Windows 8 having a “very positive impact” on the PC market, with Dell being there to capitalise on it with its own products.

“We’ve already revealed a number of touch-enabled product additions to Dell’s family,” Rochefordiere said.

“The use of touch screen technology will expand, as the right hardware now has an operating system designed for touch.”

Within Dell's portfolio, Rochefordiere is personally interested in the prospects for the XPS 12 Duo.

“It is a very exciting product because it embraces both traditional keyboard and touch capabilities brought about through Windows 8,” she said.

Best of both worlds

With a fierce PC market and growing interest in other technologies fighting for the attention of consumers, it will be up to Dell to find ways to make its XPS line stand out from the rest.

As for what makes the XPS brand "premium" compared to Dell's entry level brands, Rochefordiere distils the attraction of the line in the "uncompromised form and function, high performance and thoughtful craftsmanship and design" of the products.

“XPS also best exemplifies the consumerisation of IT trend that has seen IT departments increasingly adopt a BYOD model due to strong demand from employees for more stylish consumer products,” she said.

“It directly addresses the phenomenon by bridging the best of both worlds, namely powerful performance and premium design for consumers, and enterprise-friendly security and manageability features.”

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