In response to widespread internet backlash, Dell has revised "Della," its website marketing netbooks to women, purging it of references to calorie counting and shopping.
When Della launched earlier this week to promote the computer manufacturer's line of Inspirion Mini 10 netbooks, the site included a video on shopping for vintage clothing and "Tech Tips" explaining how ladies could use this strange device, as of course, we don't know how to use real laptops.
Joanna Stern summarized on LAPTOP magazine's website:
The Tech Tips page, with its patronizing "Seven Unexpected Ways a Netbook Can Change Your Life," is full of stereotypes of how women's lives can be changed with a mini-notebook... "Track your exercise and food intake at free online sites like Fitday," is Tip Number One, like any self-respecting women's magazine would recommend. Number two: Find recipes online (just because we have laptops doesn't mean we don't still belong in the kitchen). Dell, is this all you think us women do with our laptops? Or do you think women are that slow at the technology uptake that we don't know that a netbook is capable of these activities?
In response to the huge amount of criticism the site received online, yesterday, Dell revised the site, adding the message, "Some of you have read this article over the last several days & will notice a few modifications. You spoke, we listened. Thank you for your ongoing feedback." The "5 Ways to Use a Netbook" section now boasts that the product can help women get organized, read eBooks, track workouts, and is easy to take along when traveling. The page on "featured artist" Robyn Moreno and her video on vintage shopping are still up.
"Some brands go too far with the girlie stuff, and that's when they start getting into trouble," said Andrea Learned, author of Don't Think Pink - What Really Makes Women Buy in the New York Times. Learned said Della emphasizing netbook colors and computer accessories, but burying price information and specifications, seemed condescending to women. "Della's marketing strategy sounds like it's advertising a purse," Ms. Learned said. "There's a level of consumer sophistication they're missing."
"There was certainly no intent to offend anyone and if we did, we apologize," said Dell spokesman Bob Kaufman, according to MSNBC, adding, "Many people do see their laptops and netbooks as a style statement, and we want to be part of those conversations." Style is an important consideration, especially since you'll hopefully be staring at the computer for several years, but it isn't the most important factor in purchasing a computer, nor is it something only women care about. As several of our commenters pointed out earlier, Apple and many PC manufacturers have used style as a selling point to both male and female consumers, but don't assume in their commercials that people don't care about the product's performance as well.