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And Now, Computers… for WOMEN!

Posted on May 12th, 2009 by Cyd Harrell
16 comments

Hear that? It’s the sound of the glass ceiling shattering into a million pieces—because now, for the first time in HERhisstory, Dell has made their computers accessible not only to men, but to female people!

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Dell has launched a new site for female laptop buyers, Della, which shows you how to use your computer to “track your food intake”, “find recipes online”, and “watch yoga videos”. (Note how the computers match their owners’ clothes: because we all need a $1200 accessory. Also note “cherrydoll”‘s authentically mispunctuated comment: because syntax is for boys!)

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Above is a picture of me, yes, a woman, with the last Dell I will ever own.  It’s my current laptop, and I chose it because I needed a computer powerful enough to run screensharing tools and high-res video; I needed mobile broadband to stay in touch with my clients and employees, and not just my kid (heresy!); I needed my screen to look great when I go to meetings with clients.

That is to say, I needed it for work.

Dell, let’s make it official: you can bite me and the millions of other women who take themselves and their technology seriously.  This makes me sad, because I used to like Dell.

Here’s what I’m guessing happened:  you did the wrong kind of research.  You relied on surveys that genericized women’s desires as consumers.  You asked lifestyle questions instead of focusing on people’s real-life behaviors.  You knew that some women find technology intimidating (newsflash: so do some men), so you set out to transform the laptop into a lifestyle product.  You handed that brief to your designers, and then—assuming you tested this on any actual users at all—you asked them if they “liked” it or if it made them feel comfortable.

Well, guess what?  You missed the entire point.  Just making your site easier to understand and navigate would benefit all your users, male and female, and wouldn’t be that hard to do.  But by making it a gender issue, you gave yourselves permission to avoid the challenges of explaining new technology in plain English, and you just stuck on a fluffy front end to mollify dumb girls.  I haven’t been so disgusted with a tech company in a long, long time. It seems lots of other people are talking about it and they aren’t too happy.

-Cyd

[top pic via Della; link via Engadget]

  • jeanne friedman (aka mom)

    Cyd – This is so bad I had to click on the Della link to make sure it was not a leftover April’s Fool joke. Alas, it appears not. Your response is just great – perfect!

    Jeanne

  • Emily

    nobody says “tote or case.” that cherrydoll is a fake fan plant. ew. double ew. on top of the already triple ew barf i already experienced. thanks for sharing!

  • Pingback: Dell(a) Responds: Feedback is Cute! « Phi for Fools

  • Nika

    I’m glad that none of my FOUR computers are a Dell; I can write their company off permanently. Gee, if only I knew how to use one…maybe a cute mini version to match my sweater would help.

  • Wilber

    Have you got nothing better to do?

  • Anonymous

    the models in the first picture look much better than the one in the second.

  • Mike

    They’re trying to appeal to low-hanging fruit in what they see as a largely untapped demographic, but I wonder if their gains in fickle, fad sensitive casual users will really offset their loss of credibility with the serious users who tend to be repeat customers. I’m currently using a Dell laptop because only Dell PCs where available at a discount from my school. I don’t think my next computer will be a Dell.

  • James

    I find it funny that, out of (what I assume is) a fairly large team of designers, marketers, and conceptualizers at Dell, not one person considered the possibility that this might be insulting rather than helpful. At least they took the -a off of Della.

  • http://www.thebaldchemist.com The Baldchemist

    Its the perfect present for Christs sake! Save me and I am the most egalitarian male on the Planet!

  • http://www.thebaldchemist.com The Baldchemist

    But we run with Mac only in our studio…. by far the best!

  • cletus.thudpucker

    I like the strategically placed flower on the shirt of the second model

  • steve

    You are hot when you express your feminine outrage…GRRRRRRR ;-)

  • Anonymous

    That second picture shows truly how out of touch this blog is. A true business woman would never ever wear a flower motif shirt. Is she trying to get ahead in business by her clothes more than her merit? How insulting. And those earrings! GAAAH, how does THAT fit into the board room?!?!

  • http://boltpeters.com Cyd

    @Anonymous 11:09, OMG total shock! I don’t look nearly as good as airbrushed models in an ad. Let me clue you in on the reason: I am an actual person, frankly an actual geek–which is sort of the point of the post. My job is not to look perpetually 25 and flawless for you, it’s to find out interesting things about human behavior on behalf of my clients. Sorry to disappoint (not).

    Also, one of the great things about the tech industry is none of that powersuit nonsense–I wear what I like, thanks.

  • John Zap

    If it helps to sell more product then do it! Sell more Dell’s and you have to pay people to package, ship, support, assemble etc.
    The global economy is in the toilet and every little bit of consumer confidence and consumer stimulus will help.

  • Jim Zappata

    Let’s not all take our selves too seriously.