Dell's Apple Challenge

After its unsuccessful line of Dell Streak tablets powered by Google's Android operating system, software giant Dell (NAS: DELL) now plans to strike back with a new range of tablets powered by Microsoft's (NAS: MSFT) Windows 8 operating system, which are slated to hit the shelves during the later half of this year.

Time to find out what's different this time round.

Increased acceptance of tablets
Tablets are fast becoming a global trendsetter. The tablet has hit the PC hard on its dominant home turf -- the corporate sector -- and this time it really means business. People who have used tablets at home are now using them at work, as evidenced by the sheer volume of companies buying Apple (NAS: AAPL) iPads for their employees. According to Forrester Research, businesses will buy a whopping $10 billion worth of iPads this year, a figure likely to shoot up to $16 billion by 2013. Sure, that's a lot of iPads, but what's more important is that it's also all about Apple, which should give you a fair idea of the competition Dell needs to contend with.

Keeping that in mind, is the company's decision to roll out new Windows 8-based tablets a really smart move? I think so, given its firm foothold in the very corporate sector that we're talking about.

How Dell stacks up to Apple
Dell is best known for catering to the business segment through products such as personal computers, servers, and laptops. Its long-standing relationships with corporate consumers make it better placed to understand and customize products for their needs. Apple, in contrast, is more focused on consumer-oriented products that function on different, hard-to-implement systems.

Dell also claims that iPads are known to have many issues concerning security and compatibility with other systems, making it a challenge to deploy them in a complex, multi-gadget, corporate IT environment. Dell, on the other hand, is confident that it would be able to address these issues more effectively, given its proven experience in the corporate IT Infrastructure space.

Having said all that, I think the single most important thing likely to determine Dell's success in the tablet space will be Microsoft's ability to make its new Windows 8 operating system compatible with other systems as well as gain mass acceptability.

And then there are the others
It would be interesting to see how Dell competes with the iPad's immense popularity and sheer brand appeal. But the competition is not just restricted to Apple, as others are also planning to introduce Windows-based tablets targeting business consumers. Take, for instance, Nokia (NYS: NOK) . After being left behind in the smartphone race, the Finnish company also plans to introduce its own tablet, which would run on Windows 8. With this move, Nokia hopes to somewhat reverse the huge losses it has incurred over the past three quarters. Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) , which lost a considerable amount of market share last year in the personal computer space, is also planning a tablet comeback.

The Foolish bottom line
Would Dell's re-entry into the tablet space, powered by Windows 8, really make a great difference? Well, I think Dell stands a good chance to distinguish itself from other tablets in the market, including the iPad, given the former's business-centric appeal. I'm keeping a close track on Dell for the time being, and I think you should, too.

But Dell isn't the only player in the mobile computing space. To find out about the others, you can check out our free report on these three hidden winners of the iPhone, iPad, and Android revolution. Get it while it's still available.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Keki Fatakia holds no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, Apple, and Google.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Nokia, creating bull call spread positions in Apple and Microsoft, and writing covered calls on Dell. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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