Dell Computer: Inspiron Product Development

By Jacquelyn Thomas, Michael Rosenstein
1998 | Case No. M293
Describes the organizational, strategic, and tactical challenges that Dell Computer faces as it develops a new laptop computer that is targeted at home and small business users. Portrays the challenges that the firm faces as it attempts to manage its customer portfolio as well as its product line profitability. Presents data on the trade-offs that the product developers must make with regard to the weight, price, and hardware specifications of the potential new product. A unit within Dell, called the Center for Competence, plays a key role in the design positioning and pricing for the product line. In many respects this unit represents the voice of the customer in the product development and marketing process. The key questions at the end of the case are: 1) Should the laptop be introduced? 2) If it is introduced, how should it be configured? and 3) How should the product be priced? Teaching Purpose: 1) The challenges of structuring and operating an organization that has both a strong product development focus and a customer management orientation. 2) Issues regarding customer acquisition and product line management.
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