See Ya, Streak 5

By  |  Monday, August 15, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Dell’s first Android tablet, the Streak 5, is officially discontinued. A strange farewell message now appears on Dell’s Streak 5 web page (“Goodbye, Streak 5. It’s been a great ride.”), with an image of a pretty woman who is not holding a Streak 5.

The general consensus is that the Streak 5 was too big to be a good phone and too small to be a good tablet, but I’m not convinced of that argument. Phone makers have successfully made 4.3-inch screens desirable, and are now pushing toward 4.5 inches with the Samsung Infuse 4G and rumored HTC Holiday. And whenever I write about 7-inch tablets, I’m shocked by the number of commenters who want to use them as phones. I think there’s a niche for oversized handsets. Dell just failed to capture it. In hindsight, it’s easy to see why.

No clear identity: Although Dell called the Streak a tablet, AT&T treated it like a phone, requiring two years of voice and data service to get the Streak’s subsidized $300 price tag. Best Buy also buried the Streak among its smartphones. Dell and its partners needed a clearer marketing message to sell the Streak 5 to the masses.

A messy launch: As I wrote for PC World more than a year ago, mixed messages marred the Streak 5’s launch. The unlocked price was $50 higher than Dell had originally announced, the launch date was repeatedly pushed back, and the voice plan requirement came out of nowhere. Dell also waited until the last minute to debunk rumors that the Streak would be available on T-Mobile, angering a subsection of users who were waiting to buy the device on their carrier of choice.

Moldy Android: The Streak 5 launched with Android 1.6 at a time when most phones were getting Android 2.1 or higher, resulting in a sluggish interface compared to newer devices. An upgrade to Android 2.2 didn’t land until November of last year.

Dell has since launched a 7-inch Streak worldwide and a 10-inch Streak in China only, but in a market flooded with Android tablets in those sizes, the 5-inch Streak was the most unique in Dell’s portfolio. It’s a shame the company couldn’t make it work.


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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Quryous Says:

    Although I read articles about the Streak 5, I have not yet seen an AD for it. Dell did the worst job of marketing on the 5 of any product I can think of. None, in effect. I looked for it at several ATT stores and at several Best Buys, and none of them EVER had it, and ATT insisted it never heard of it. So, I am just sitting and waiting as other better players ever so slowly increase the size of their screens. I figure in a year or two there will be other, MUCH better, 5" tablet-phone combinations available from several makers. At least I hope so. 7" is too big, and 4.3" is way too small to read. 5 was "just right" if Dell had only had a brain.

  2. Tony Says:

    I can see a niche for an ios5 in tablet, basically a SONY PSP, NINTENDO DS killer.

  3. elretso Says:

    I own a streak5 and I friggin' love it… the fact that it is a bit bigger is not such a big deal unless you are trying to get a console on a server, when its absolutely imperative. I think people are silly to think 5" is too big of a phone and to small a tablet. Seems to me that everyone is going to have a size that works for them, so to make such a generalization is to ignore the variety of customers out there. My thought is that all tablets eventual will have phones anyways, but Dell really missed the mark in advertising the fact that they were the first to offer that. In a world of $20 per moth tethering on a plan you already pay per bit, an all in one solution really makes economical scene.

  4. CKChan Says:

    I like my Streak so much that I bought one for my wife. However, she didn't like it that much: it is some what too big for her taste. It is sad that Dell really screwed up its launch and its marketing which was non-existing.

  5. Outerwings Says:

    I thought the 5 inch form factor was just awesome!
    I held the GALAXY TAB and that was too big.. HTC 4.3 and you still have to pinch and squint
    5 was IDEAL for browsing and reading because many BOOKS come in that size too..
    So Personally i think DELL should've nailed it with this size..
    Too bad they didn't know how to sell it!
    A typical AD campaign should have been something like "The BIGGEST Phone on the market"
    "The Grand DADDY of them all" and "MONSTER".. instead even Dell seemed confused as to what it was!
    As far as the phone being big is concerned.. I don't agree.. "PERCEPTION is more important than reality" no body knew what an iPHONE was and now it is the holy grail of all smartphones with teeny chicks who have no idea about technology waiting in lines to get their hands on it!! Nobody says its too expensive or geeky.. and if APPLE creates a 4 inch iPHONE(which it just might) you will see all these teeming millions getting on the band wagon!
    DELL instead of giving up on the 5 inch form factor should try to create a lighter and brighter (crisper screen) version with the latest android.. and for once communicate it right.. and they'l have a winner on their hands:)

  6. BobQ Says:

    In the context of discontinuing the Streak 5, I acquired one a few weeks ago as part of the "clearance" that the Japanese carrier was conducting. I replaced my ancient WM6 PHS phone with a package deal of a free basic PHS phone and a free Dell Streak with a two year contract. I had to sign on to a data plan but it is a plan with no charges unless 3G data is actually used. While it's not a replacement for an iPad for work, it's a great size for reading with the Kindle app or NYTimes, WSJ and FT clients.

  7. Ashford Says:

    Picked one up on E-bay and love it. I prefer a keyboard like my Nokia E-90 so the bigger size is easier to transition to. Speed and applications were worth the move from Symbian-60 but I can't get it to hands free auto answer with the bluetooth like the Nokia could