There was an immeasurable distance between the quick and the dead: they did not seem to belong to the same species; and it was strange to think that but a little while before they had spoken and moved and eaten and laughed - W. Somerset Maugham
Compare that to Dell, which has almost the opposite problem to Blackberry with its heritage in consumer hardware that it now wants to shed and evolve into an enterprise IT provider.
Dell made unsuccessful attempts with its Streak range to break into the tablet market, but having realised this was not going to work, it withdrew them from sale and instead gave its full attention to building out its enterprise IT arm with purchases like thin-client firm Wyse, enterprise software firm Quest and IT services firm Perot Systems.
The wording of Michael Dell's message today, with its reference to security, manageability and cloud services, makes it very clear exactly what type of firm Dell wants to be and its recent acquisitions are evidence of how it plans to achieve this transition from hardware maker to enterprise IT vendor.
When I think of the successful IT players, those still raking in the cash despite the downturn, the names that jump to my mind are Apple, Oracle, IBM and Samsung. What links these firms is that they all have a very clear target market. Yes, Apple and Samsung are the darlings of the enterprise when it comes to staff choosing their own handsets, but neither firm spends any time or marketing budget going after the business base. Instead, you'll find Galaxy and iPads adverts plastered all through glossy lifestyle magazines, on video billboards at shopping centres and on prime-time TV slots.
IBM and Oracle have carved out clear paths as core enterprise technology players, shedding unwanted consumer divisions like the IBM PC arm sold long ago to Lenovo. When it became obvious that mobile was the future for the corporate world, neither firm rushed to snap up a mobile vendor, like HP with its ill-fated Palm buy, and instead they fleshed out their own offerings through R&D and acquisitions to support their business customers' mobile requirements.
Dell and Blackberry both have rocky roads ahead. But Dell might have the slight upper hand in that it's clear that it wants to be a purely enterprise player, like an IBM or an Oracle, while Blackberry is making all the appearances of wanting to be a consumer smartphone provider, like an Apple or Samsung, but without having the confidence to come out and say that's where it thinks its future lies. µ