Why Can’t You Buy Dell’s XPS 13 Developer Edition Notebook In Australia?

Why Can’t You Buy Dell’s XPS 13 Developer Edition Notebook In Australia?
Image: Dell

Dell’s spiffy Developer Edition notebooks are a product of the company’s “Project Sputnik”, an “open-ended exploratory project to identify what developers wanted in an ideal system”. Unfortunately, despite being widely available in the US and Europe, you can’t get them in Australia (the exception being the Precision 5520). So, why do we miss out?

First of all, why would you want a “Developer Edition” Dell notebook anyway? The main point of difference is the option to preload Ubuntu or Red Hat, with all the necessary drivers installed, saving you the hassle of doing it yourself. This also brings down the price as you’re not paying for Windows.

While not of great benefit to the lone programmer (especially those who enjoy the process of installing their OS themselves), in an enterprise scenario, being able to order high-spec Linux notebooks in bulk with support — and saving a few hundred dollars per unit — is very tempting.

Sadly, the Developer Edition hardware, in particular the XPS 13 model, cannot be purchased in Australia, despite a page on the Dell Australia website apparently showing the opposite.

According to Project Sputnik lead George Barton, the reason you can’t get it is because Dell limits the “number of systems that they can offer” by region — in this case, the DE models don’t make the cut:

I did recently get the list of other countries but they are all within EMEA. I’d love to have the XPS 13 Developer Edition available in Australia but unfortunately there aren’t any plans currently to add it. The way it works at Dell is each region/country has a certain number of systems that they can offer. They decide which ones they think will be most popular with their customers.

Barton mentions “[going] back again to our Australian team and see if they’ve had a change of heart”, but seeing as the comment was made in January with no follow-up, I don’t think he had much luck.

I know, it’s not a great loss, but it’d be nice to have the option.

Dell XPS13 Developer Edition ships with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS pre-installed [Ubuntu]


  • Similar story for many of the tablet editions of the major OEMs: rarely if ever offered in Australia over the last 15 years, leading to the common misconception that only Microsoft sells them (ie the Surface family).

  • Was very annoyed when I found this out the hard way when trying to order one for work.

    The least they could do is just send it without an OS and give a discount for not preloading it with the virus that is windows.

  • Am I getting the wrong picture of how laptops and tablets are sold by companies like Dell? I thought the process was:
    1. The items are built and stored in a warehouse (probably both done in Asia)
    2. The item is delivered when you order it.

    Originally, Dell made a huge fuss about “built to order” but there’s precious little to customise in a laptop these days, and nothing at all in the DE model.
    Similarly, having stock in a local warehouse speeds up the delivery – but not by that much. Warehouses cost money, and having one in a cheap area beats having several, all around the world, where real estate and workforce costs jump dramatically.

    Which leaves precious few reasons for not offering a model locally. The one being offered here sounds like “We can’t be bothered updating our website to take your money”.

    • It’s not that simple. Dell has chosen to only make a certain number of models available, so to offer this one they’d have to drop a different model. While this may be annoying, it makes sense. You can’t just sell a laptop – they also have to provide aftermarket support, which gets harder the more models you have. The cost of providing support for each model goes down the more you sell, so it’s better to sell high volumes of a small number of models. Sales staff also have to be trained in the new model, advertising paid for, and so on. Having too many models also confuses consumers. So adding more models to the line up simply doesn’t make sense from a business point of view.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!