Dell's Next Mistake

Dell's (Nasdaq: DELL  ) shiny new Streak hits the market this week. Let me guess. You're not getting one.

It's easy to bet against Dell this time. The Streak is too big to be a smartphone, yet too small to be a tablet. Maybe Dell would have a chance if it had priced its tweener aggressively, but that's not happening either.

Dell will be selling the device for $299 tethered to a two-year contract with AT&T (NYSE: T  ) . In other words, it's more expensive than an entry-level smartphone. It can also be bought for $549 without a long-term contract, though its SIM is still locked to the AT&T network. In other words, it's more expensive than an entry-level iPad.

It's running Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android -- and that's a good thing -- but it simply exposes the Streak to the plethora of cheaper gadgets running the same open-source operating system.

No one expects Dell to drum up an Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) killer, but this product may give Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Kin a run for its money for the dud crown introduction of 2010.

Maybe I'm not being fair to Dell. Let's see the Streak out in the wild next week, to see how the masses react.

Nope. I'm sorry. I don't have to go that far out to predict how this will play out. Dell's Streak is going to look great as a portable media player, but it will look ridiculous when someone has to field a call on this thing. Maxwell Smart answering a shoe will have nothing on a Streak owner when this quasitablet rings.

I'm not going to write off Dell completely here, because eventually it's going to be hungry enough to hit the market running with an accessible gadget at a ridiculously accessible price. It's just not happening this time around.

Dell has a habit of aggressively attacking negative comments, so let me make it easy for the company. What do you all think of the Streak? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Dell and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has seen the number of smartphones in his home grow from zero to three over the past couple of years. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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