Dell, on the tail-end of a dismal earnings report that failed to meet Wall Street’s expectations, has been busily diversifying its product offerings in the face of flagging PC computer sales. The fruit of one of those diversifications is coming from Dell’s recently purchased WYSE division, a manufacturer known most prominently for their thin-client platforms, in the form of an extremely small thin-client that can be plugged directly into the HDMI port of late-model monitors and TV’s to create a “computer on the go.” Dubbed “Ophelia” this device is just slightly larger than a USB flash (nee thumb) drive, and will run the Android 4.0 OS natively, but can also hook into virtualization platforms from industry standards VMWare, Citrix and Microsoft. Expected to arrive in July for developers and the general public this Fall, Ophelia is expected to cost approximately $100.
What this means for you:
More and more businesses are turning to virtualization and cloud-based resources, one of many factors that is contributing to Dell’s weakening PC sales. The purchase of WYSE was a shrewd move, assuming this trend continues, and we don’t see a rebound like the industry saw in the 80’s with it’s first romance with the client-server model. Unlike the first go-round with client-server technology, today’s thin clients are more than powerful enough for the average knowledge worker’s needs while still being easier and cheaper to maintain than a fleet of standard desktops. The move to ultra-portable seems to be a natural next step, given the modern workforce’s growing acceptance of mobility, and may be a much-needed shot in the arm for Dell.
Should you go out and buy one? At $100, it may add another layer of sophistication to your fancy LCD big-screen in the living room, or add a valuable and extremely portable resource to your traveling business kit. It’s still way too early to tell, but basing it on Android will give the device a solid app eco-system that will hopefully prevent it from being just another addition to the drawer of lost technology toys.