After reading Gizmodo's great entry on "Product Spam" the first thing that came to mind was Dell's dizzying choice of desktop computers. Dell currently offers about 24 desktop PCs, with 15 different enclosures, across 2 customer segments and 6 product lines. This is a little wired considering that people are increasingly choosing notebooks to desktops. Also Dell has yet to jump on the all-in-one bandwagon, despite the fact that Apple, Sony, HP and now Gateway all have compelling all-in-one products. However, the good news is that, believe it or not, since mostly ditching the Dimensions line things have actually improved. But I think Dell can still do better.
Dell recently announced it's goal to go carbon neutral by 2008, however, Dell has consistently added a few new enclosures to their product line every year. That means that Dell is continuously re-tooling to make new these enclosures. Additionally Dell's current desktop line includes several cases which are about the same size, which is confusing for customers and a redundant production effort. Reducing the number of desktop enclosures could actually help Dell with their goal of being carbon neutral. By designing enclosures that can be used across product lines and have longer design cycles, Dell would reduce manufacturing redundancy and re-tool less often. In fact that's pretty much what Dell is doing with the new line of Vostro/Inspiron desktops. The Vostro line is for business users, while the Inspiron line is for home users, they use what appears to be the same enclosures just in different colors (Vosto is black, while Inspiron is sliver). Designing enclosures to be used across product segments and with a long re-design cycle will not be easy, but I think Dell's designers are up to the challenge.
I think it's possible that the XPS enclosures could also be used for Precision workstations, at which point the Precision brand may no longer be useful. I also think Dell could use the same family of enclosures for the Optiplex line as well as for home desktops. After all, Optiplex enclosures are probably the best desktop enclosures Dell makes, so why not use them for home desktops too?