"Dell is unmatched as a high-volume supplier, but its business model doesn't work as well when it can only achieve low sales volumes. It therefore waited until portable MP3 players had become a substantial market before launching its own system in 2003, then dropped out in 2006, when it failed to get more than 3% or so of the US market. This time, it looks as though its approach will be based on Zing, a music site it bought last year. And it will go beyond music players, according to Michael Tatelman, Dell's vice president of consumer sales. Dell no longer focuses on the lowest price: it has "value" lines such as Vostro, consumer lines such as the Studio range, a high end performance line (XPS), and lots of business lines. It sells direct and via retail stores, and has a big services business that does things like manage fleets of corporate PCs. And while most of its sales are based on openly available market standards -- they are platform sales -- Zing shows it adding an experience-based integrated approach."
I remember buying Dell's old MP3 player, called the Dell DJ if I recall correctly, and being less than satisfied with it (cheap look and feel, very limited in terms of functionality, all kinds of DRM issues), so I was obviously a little skeptical when I read this article. But we'll have to wait and see exactly what kind of integrated service Dell offers. The commentary at the end of the article on a potential partnership with Microsoft's Zune is interesting because I started to think along the exact same lines because it doesn't look like (at least from this article that) Dell is planning any hardware so they will probably need to create partnerships with one or more device makers in order to really be successful.