Dell Differentiates Its New Product…By Two Letters

First there was the Asus Eee, a space-saving 2-pound laptop touted through grass roots marketing, most notably the rave reviews from techies around the globe (and everyone right here at Riley Communications!). Then, like the last third grader to get a cell phone, Dell released the E, a self-declared generic substitute for Asus’s innovation from its lowered price to its second-string marketing.

Dell’s most obvious blunder, not bothering to think of a different product name than its direct competitor, might actually be a marketing ploy in disguise. By indirectly admitting the E’s creation was a response rather than an idea, Dell’s uninspired name choice screams “we have no qualms about being the knock-off brand.” Not to mention the product originated from the top of the corporate ladder instead of from the ground up (a no-no for the technology enthusiasts this product targets). On the plus side, their MacBook Air imitation E Slim was given a more unique moniker (although it sounds more like a bad rap artist than an electronic innovation). Hey, a name like “Air” is hard to match…or respell.

These cheeky tricks are all right for bargain shoppers, but for the true technology connoisseurs this brand of marketing (or flagrant disregard of marketing) is a little insulting. Dell replaces the computer industry’s standard of one-upping the competition with downgrading its own brand. Even though the E offers some features the Eee lacks, like extended-memory models for video, Dell sells itself short by putting their product out there as the same old thing at a cheaper price rather than an innovation independent of similar, but not equal, competitor products.

Dell unfortunately serves as a cautionary tale for missing marketing’s fundamental rule: separating your product from the competitors’, not piggybacking off it. Let’s just hope the bargain hunters write glowing blogs and online reviews about the E, so Dell can mimic Asus’s grass roots approach, too.

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