Michael Dell reaches out to gamers (HDTV is where it’s at)

Over at the Direct2Dell blog there’s a video of Michael Dell who spoke with gamers at the Austin Game Conference. It’ll be interesting to watch the Apple announcements tomorrow. Apple has been gunning for Dell’s marketshare. But, the interview is interesting cause Michael explained some of Dell’s hopes for Vista and PC-based gaming and also explains what’s happening in the high-end of the consumer world.

I think Michael Dell is still missing the huge trend inside homes that’s hitting now: large-screen HDTV. He’s focusing too much on PC-based gaming and not enough on what happens to entertainment priorities when a new large-screen TV shows up.

More and more people are going to buy large-screen TVs for their homes (you only need to hang out at Best Buy and see where all the action is to realize that these things are selling like hotcakes). When the buying decision happens to put one of these suckers in your home, everything about your media usage changes.

Most people aren’t going to buy a new PC just to play games. Now, don’t take me wrong. PC gaming is still very important. It’s just not going to be where the industry sees massive growth. That’s going to come from the war between Xbox 360 and Sony’s Play Station 3. Why? HDTV.

Me and my friends are noticing that we are already budgeting out our discretionary spending for the next year. I’m far more likely to buy a new HD Tivo, like seen on TechMeme today, or a new Playstation or Xbox than I am to buy a new PC that can play the latest games. The unknown variable in that mix is Windows Vista. But, even there, my first Windows Vista purchase will be a HD media center, not a gaming machine (and that’s despite having a 12-year-old who loves playing video games. The Xbox is just a better place for families to game together than a PC.

Dell remains particularly clueless about HDTV. Look at its website. Quick, find me the words “HDTV.” I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple jumps into the HD world left alone by Dell tomorrow.

My HD media center will sit upstairs. Have a massive hard drive on it. And will be shared to my HDTV screen downstairs via the Xbox 360 (this is one of the coolest features of the 360, by the way). That’ll let me watch PC-based videos (I want to subscribe to ZeFrank and watch him, along with other videobloggers, on my 60-inch screen downstairs), and also get a great game experience with the Xbox. Plus my photos, my music, all will be stored on the huge hard drive upstairs and displayed through the Xbox 360′s extender capabilities. Where in this scenario is room for a killer gaming PC? I don’t see it.

Why? Cause the Xbox is gonna do the heavy game lifting and the Vista machine upstairs just needs a decent enough video card to display Vista’s glass interface, not to give me a great game framerate.

Translation: I don’t think Dell’s strategy of focusing on PC gaming is that exciting. Dell, please focus on HDTV, that requires you to put HDTV front and center on your Website — you have a couple of laptops that are better for HDTV than Apple’s offerings but you don’t even point that out. What does that demonstrate to me? That Dell is clueless about HDTV and the real trends that are going to hit the livingroom over the next 36 months.

If you don’t focus on HDTV, Apple will come in and take the home away from you. And Steve Jobs has a big stick in his hand: Disney content.

When Michael Dell starts really showing some leadership in the HDTV world wake me up. Thanks! Until then I’m saving up for the new HD Tivo.

60 thoughts on “Michael Dell reaches out to gamers (HDTV is where it’s at)

  1. I’d trust a homeless guy on the corner to sell me a gaming laptop over Dell. I couldn’t play games on my Inspiron 9300 laptop due to a stuttering problem; any game, even old ones, showed video freezing every few
    seconds.

    I emailed Dell support, whose only response was to tell me to run the onboard diagnostics software. Since that passed, the only option given to me was to try their paid software support line. I didn’t want to do
    this since (a) I was certain it was a problem with the laptop and not with any particular software, since _all_ games were showing this behaviour, and (b) they couldn’t even tell me how much I was expected to pay.

    One particularly choice exchange between myself and the support person was the following:

    Dell Support: “I think the games are just not meant for this system.It may be a compatability issue as these systems are not meant for gaming. Dell have made a notebook specifically for gaming, called XPS notebooks.The inspirons shouldn’t really be used for gaming.”

    Me: “The specs of the machine on your web site specifically mention they can be used for gaming:

    http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/inspn_9300?c=us&cs=22&l=en&s=dfh

    Can you explain why you think “the inspirons shouldn’t really be used for gaming if you actually market them as such?”

    Dell Support: “When I said this machine shouldn’t really be used for gaming, I meant if you were using this system for games only, it wouldn’t be
    appropriate.Obviously, this is your system and it is totally up to you how you wish to use this.”

    After 2 months of asking questions and searching various forums, I finally found a fix for this problem, involving a third-party utility that turns off the drive’s power-saving mode, which Dell switch on by default. The given fix indeed worked, and games are now totally stutter-free on the laptop. Thinking I was being helpful, I mailed the same Dell support person about this.

    Instead of getting a thank-you or acknowledgement that this information might be used to help other customers, I got the following email:

    —————————————————–8

  2. I’d trust a homeless guy on the corner to sell me a gaming laptop over Dell. I couldn’t play games on my Inspiron 9300 laptop due to a stuttering problem; any game, even old ones, showed video freezing every few
    seconds.

    I emailed Dell support, whose only response was to tell me to run the onboard diagnostics software. Since that passed, the only option given to me was to try their paid software support line. I didn’t want to do
    this since (a) I was certain it was a problem with the laptop and not with any particular software, since _all_ games were showing this behaviour, and (b) they couldn’t even tell me how much I was expected to pay.

    One particularly choice exchange between myself and the support person was the following:

    Dell Support: “I think the games are just not meant for this system.It may be a compatability issue as these systems are not meant for gaming. Dell have made a notebook specifically for gaming, called XPS notebooks.The inspirons shouldn’t really be used for gaming.”

    Me: “The specs of the machine on your web site specifically mention they can be used for gaming:

    http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/inspn_9300?c=us&cs=22&l=en&s=dfh

    Can you explain why you think “the inspirons shouldn’t really be used for gaming if you actually market them as such?”

    Dell Support: “When I said this machine shouldn’t really be used for gaming, I meant if you were using this system for games only, it wouldn’t be
    appropriate.Obviously, this is your system and it is totally up to you how you wish to use this.”

    After 2 months of asking questions and searching various forums, I finally found a fix for this problem, involving a third-party utility that turns off the drive’s power-saving mode, which Dell switch on by default. The given fix indeed worked, and games are now totally stutter-free on the laptop. Thinking I was being helpful, I mailed the same Dell support person about this.

    Instead of getting a thank-you or acknowledgement that this information might be used to help other customers, I got the following email:

    —————————————————–8

  3. Scoble, Best Buy’s profits weren’t ENTIRELY based on sales of flat screens. Sure, they contributed, but it wasn’t the sole reason. And I would challenge your “I know a lot of regular people”. How many do you know that have a PC still running Windows 95, have dial up modems, don’t have a game console, use the computer maybe once or twice a week, have only basic cable, and an analog cell phone?

  4. Scoble, Best Buy’s profits weren’t ENTIRELY based on sales of flat screens. Sure, they contributed, but it wasn’t the sole reason. And I would challenge your “I know a lot of regular people”. How many do you know that have a PC still running Windows 95, have dial up modems, don’t have a game console, use the computer maybe once or twice a week, have only basic cable, and an analog cell phone?

  5. Sure would like one box for all of that

    Ditto, if wishes were horses. “Center”, “portal”, “extender”, boy lotta hair-splitting word-parsing going around. ;)

    I was commenting on the fact that the 360 isn’t the primary piece of equipment for all things media.

    Likewise.

  6. Sure would like one box for all of that

    Ditto, if wishes were horses. “Center”, “portal”, “extender”, boy lotta hair-splitting word-parsing going around. ;)

    I was commenting on the fact that the 360 isn’t the primary piece of equipment for all things media.

    Likewise.

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