Customers Irritated Over Axim X5 Delays

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Since Dell first began offering its Axim X5 Pocket PC handhelds in November, demand has exceeded supply. Now some customers are becoming angry over the typically three week wait before their new handheld arrives. There are also questions about the new models Dell was supposed to announce this month.

Dell Axim X5 Pocket PC A Dell spokesperson told Cnet recently that the delays were caused by a combination of high-demand and a shortage of some accessories, like a keyboard or Wi-Fi card. However, whether accessories are included or not, an Axim X5 Entry, the less expensive model, ordered today on Dell’s site has an estimated ship date of February 14. An Axim X5 Advanced, the more expensive model with a 400 MHz processor, won’t ship until February 21.

Of course, much of the popularity of the Axim Line has been its low price. The Entry model sells for $250 and includes a 300 MHz XScale processor and both SD/MMC and CompactFlash slots. The Advanced one sells for $350. The $50 rebates previously offered on these models ended January 23.

Before the launch, Anthony Bonadero, director of worldwide mobile products for Dell, said his company would have 15,000 units ready at the launch and hoped to have produced 100,000 by the end of this month. However, the company won’t say at this point how many Axim’s have been sold.

Where are the new models?

Mr. Bonadero also said in November that his company would announce new handelds this month, which clearly hasn’t happened.

Though Mr. Bonadero didn’t say this, Dell was expected to announce the Axim X3, an even lower-priced handheld with fewer features, and the Axim X7, which will have more features and therefore cost more.

Dell in Retail

Dell has long been committed to selling its products directly, through its website, rather than through traditional retail stores. Now it appears the company is trying to have its cake and eat it too.

While Dell doesn’t actually sell products in retail stores, it does set up kiosks in malls where its products can be seen. People interested in buying can access the company’s website from the kiosk to place an order. In addition to PCs and laptops, these kiosks allow users to see the new Axim X5 handhelds.

This week, Dell took this a step further by setting up a kiosk in a Sears store Austin, Texas, near the company’s headquarters. This is the first time Dell has done this and appears to be an attempt to raise its profile with customers who don’t generally use the Web for shopping.

Dell is very unlikely to go into selling in retail again. In the early 1990’s it sold PCs through CompUSA, Best Buy, Sam’s Club, CostCo, and PC World in the UK. It stopping doing this in 1994 after losing a substantial amount of money.

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