ULTRAPORTABLE

Dell Adamo Message Wildly Off-Target

Mar 17, 2009 11:47 am | IT News
The News Guy

by John Dodge

The following passage is how Dell’s new “Adamo,”>Adamo laptop is positioned.

"It's for an affluent crowd and somebody who's fashion forward, style conscious who wants to project an image of success and style. They probably have a fine watch and nice, name-brand accessories and we want this to be one of them," says Dell senior product marketing manager John New. It would seem Adamo tucked under your arm makes a statement just like your Rolex, tailored suit, Italian shoes and BMW 7-Series.

The video at the Adamo site carries angular models posed in artful but unnatural positions caressing their new toy as if it were a Picasso. They do not look remotely like business people. The headings on the site are “Encounter, Discover, Admire and Commit.” The IDG News Service story on Adamo even says it’s not for “normal people.”

What if I just want to buy a `bleepin’ notebook?

The timing of Adamo - from the Latin “to fall in love with” says Dell - could not be worse. The marketing campaign is the height of pretension when Americans and people the world over are yearning for the unembellished and a return to prosperity. Deliver me from perfumed financiers who trade credit default swaps and ride on corporate jets. That’s the image here, but maybe this for those CEOs who shunned using computers. Not only is that an ultra thin market: those CEOs should be fired, too.

Compare this to the top line messages for the MacBook Air: “Better Graphics. More Storage. Yet still the World’s Thinnest Notebook.” And Air starts at $200 below the entry price of the Adamo. That’s hype I can understand.

Technically, the Adamo looks like a fine Windows Vista-based notebook computer. It’s comes in Onyx and Pearl, costs $2,600 or $2,000 and is powered by a Core 2 Duo CPU, 5-hour battery. But at the end of the day, Adamo is still a Windows XP notebook crammed into a thin four-pound box.

More appropriate are efficient, inexpensive and powerful notebooks with perhaps a hole in the bottom to symbolize depression era shoes. The notebooks I’d am interested in (if I didn’t have three already) would be a used MacBook, ThinkPad or Dell XPS. Those models have to be piling in corporate IT storerooms from all layoffs. In fact, I am using a post Soviet era IBM ThinkPad T-43 which is terrific.

To its credit, Dell has many inexpensive models such as the $399 Inspiron and that’s where it has always been strong. I have covered Dell for 25 years and Michael always told me that he would not get into any market until their was sufficient volume to turn a profit and drive down prices. The philosophy has worked brilliantly for years with only a few recent bumps in the road.

Adamo seems to go off script for Dell. It may be the right product at the wrong time, but the message is wildly off-target.