WSJ: Dell considering entering smartphone market

Apple Online Store“Dell Inc., aiming to rev up sales as its mainstay personal-computer business struggles in the recession, is preparing a move into cellphones as early as next month, said people familiar with the matter,” Justin Scheck and Yukari Iwatani Kane report for The Wall Street Journal.

“The Round Rock, Texas, company has had a group of engineers working on the phones for more than a year from an office in the Chicago area, these people said. They produced prototypes built on Google Inc.’s Android operating system and Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Mobile software, these people said,” Scheck and Kane report.

“Dell is focusing on so-called smartphones, higher-end devices that include features like Web browsing and email. One model includes a touchscreen but no physical keyboard, like Apple Inc.’s iPhone. Another is a slider-style phone with a keypad and that slides from beneath the screen, one person familiar with the devices said,” Scheck and Kane report.

“Dell hasn’t finalized its plans and may still abandon the effort, which would pit it against such powerhouses as Apple and Research In Motion Ltd.,” Scheck and Kane report. “A Dell spokesman said the company hasn’t disclosed plans to offer phones, adding: ‘We haven’t committed to anything.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Oh, please, please, please be stupid enough to commit!

Scheck and Kane continue, “Last summer, it scrapped plans to sell a digital music player with a wireless Internet connection. Dell tested the music player for months and had even lined up production before canceling it, people briefed on the matter said.”

Full article here.

Reuters reports, “If launched, the phones will be based on Google’s Android operating system and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile software, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.”

“Dell hired Ron Garriques, Motorola’ former cellphone chief, to re-energize its consumer products division. But, under a non-compete agreement, Garriques was barred from working on mobile phones until February 2009,” Reuters reports.

Full article here.

Dan Frommer reports for SIlicon Alley Insider, “How might Dell differentiate itself from other Windows Mobile or Android manufacturers, such as Motorola, LG, HTC, Sony Ericsson, etc.? The WSJ suggests it could include media syncing software from a company it acquired called Zing.”

“Why would Dell go into the phone market? It’s looking for growth and the smartphone market is growing,” Frommer reports.

Full article here.

Jim Goldman writes for CNBC, “What’s amazing to me is how long this company’s hand-wringing has gone on. Dell has watched Apple and Research in Motion, and Samsung and Nokia tighten their control at the expense of just about everyone else trying to gain entry.”

“Plus, why Dell decided to re-invent the wheel when it could’ve bought Palm for a song last year is beyond me. Unless it shows just how messed up Palm was that even a company behind the 8-ball such as Dell didn’t think taking out Palm was worth it,” Goldman writes. “Ouch.”

Goldman writes, “Dell has been a sore under-performer since its prodigal, namesake founder returned to rescue it. The company continues to lose ground against Hewlett-Packard, its stock — down 60 percent last year, is now trading below $10 a share. It’s plagued by layoffs, hiring freezes and cost-cutting. And now, to try to improve things, it’s trying to enter one of the most competitive sectors in all of tech,” Goldman writes.

“Dell apparently won’t confirm a smart-phone entry, and the Journal says it could still abandon its plans,” Goldman writes. “Seems this would have made far more sense a year ago, or two, or three. Instead, Dell becomes a Johnny-come-lately to an already very crowded party, at a time when wireless providers Verizon, AT&T and Sprint all seem to be suffering.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Mikey might actually have more screws loose than the average Dell laptop.

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