Don’t get me wrong, Dell don’t exactly *need* a tablet PC right now. For a start, they don’t have the OS for it and in reality, the iPad is also too pricey for the mainstream Dell audience to shell out. They aren’t going to buy it instead of a laptop, for example.
However, if Dell let Apple get a year’s head start without anything competitive to show in the area, they wouldn’t end up competing with just the iPad but the iPad 2, some kind of Google machine and likely something from the likes of HTC, HP and co. too.
With this in mind, they had to do something and quick. Android was really all they had to play with so I can only assume they chucked it onto a few form factors before collapsing in tears at the horrors of Android 1.6 vs the slick and clearly tablet-ready iOS.