Dell is just getting rolling in the smartphone market, but so far the company is playing the game with more skill than expected.
Let's face it: Dell is a PC company that's strong in enterprise servers and dabbling in services via the Perot Systems acquisition. But Dell's hiring of former Motorola executive Ronald Garriques a few years ago has set up the company for a long overdue smartphone effort.
Garriques first mission was to bring some design heft to Dell. Now he's running the communications unit for Dell and diving into devices.
Enter the device buzz game. Dell strategically placed a series of devices---Thunder, Lightning, Smoke and something dubbed the Froyo---with Engadget. (Note: It's speculation on my part that these devices were placed or leaked or whatever. I would have given them to Engadget). In any case, Engadget revved up the buzz-o-meter. But then a funny thing happened. Dell's devices actually look pretty impressive.
Not surprisingly Dell, a long-time Microsoft partner, has a Windows Phone 7 device with Lightning. Then there's the Android-based Thunder. The message here: Dell will be an equal opportunity smartphone player.
The other notable point here is the Dell has a series of devices in the pipeline. The message here: Dell is going to hit the smartphone market with a little scale. There's no sense in being Palm, which has nice software but only two devices that are now tired.
Now it's very early in Dell's smartphone effort, but you can only say two words: Well played.
The big question is what happens from here. Dell has to play the distribution game, land carriers and then entice those big players like Verizon and AT&T to give the company's lineup shelf space and marketing heft. If Dell accomplishes that the company may just be a player in the smartphone industry.
There are never any guarantees that Dell will ultimately be successful, but I've seen enough now to know you can't rule the company out.