Dell hints at smartphone plans, but mystery remains

Dell hinted further at its smartphones plans, but did not officially confirm that it would enter the market--thereby again sparking questions about the company's true intentions.

Ronald Garriques, president of Dell's consumer division and former chief of Motorola's cell phone efforts, said the computer maker would work with the top three to four carriers and see what their needs are. Garriques, speaking at the company's annual financial presentation in Texas, did not specify whether that meant the top three or four operators in the United States or in the world. However, according to a report in the Financial Times, he suggested Dell would work to produce smartphones for sale in Asia, Europe and the United States. 

According to a PC Magazine report, Dell executives did not specifically claim that the company would enter the smartphone market. However, when analysts made references to Dell entering the market during a question-and-answer session following the presentation, they were not corrected. In any event, Dell likely would outsource the design of a handset to a third party, the report indicated.

Ashok Kumar, a Collins Stewart analyst, told the FT that he thought Dell would soon release a smartphone in China running on Google's Android platform. That jives with an April Reuters report that said Dell would release a smartphone in China before the end of the year. The report said that Dell partnered on the handset design with Chi Mei Communications, a unit of the Taiwanese electronics company Hon Hai, and that Chinese software company Red Office was developing the phone's software.

In March, Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu said in a research note that Dell's initial smartphone prototypes were rejected by the carriers that had seen them. The carriers apparently thought the prototypes, which reportedly were running on Android and Windows Mobile, were too dull and undifferentiated.

For more:
- see this PC Magazine article
- see this FT article

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