Dell could be a real smartphone player

Dell could be a real smartphone player

Summary: Dell is just getting rolling in the smartphone market, but so far the company is playing the game with more skill than expected.

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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.

Also: Dell storms smartphone, tablet scene with 7 new devices

Topics: Dell, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones

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29 comments
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  • bundle it!

    I want a choice of a laptop or netbook and a smartphone for one price. Go the microsoft route or the google route. I think that would work.
    eokon@...
    • I agree - I think a decent bundling deal would ...

      ... result in Dell shipping A LOT of handsets and/or tablets VERY quickly.
      de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
      • It worked for Apple

        Last year, their back to school special where they bundled the iPod with a Mac purchase just to make it up via iTunes.

        I'm sure Dell could work a deal with the carriers, as the carriers would make it back thru the contract, and Dell would get their handsets on the market.
        John Zern
        • Learning from Apple? For some reason I find that

          amusing:) Perhaps it's because a lot of "vendors" have had a lot of time
          to duplicate the iPod success which was replicated by Apple with the
          iPhone and still they those others have yet to. But maybe you are right
          they could do this and it does sound like it would have potential for
          success.

          Pagan jim
          James Quinn
          • I disagree...the iPhones success has already been duplicated.

            If the projections prove true for the end of the
            year you'll see almost as many Android devices
            sold as iPhones. I fully expect that estimate to
            turn out to be short of what will really happen.

            If you're looking for a single device to have
            people lining up at midnight and selling a
            million in a weekend to prove the iPhone has
            been toppled you're wasting your time. It will
            most likely never happen. Android is about
            software and device choice. Everyone can get the
            device form factor that suits them which will
            keep any one device from having astronomical
            sales. And then theres the matter of the next
            big thing. I just ordered and Incredible and
            already here comes Dell with next gen SnapDragon
            phones. Some people will hold out and check out
            Dell. Some are already holding out to check out
            the Evo or Galaxy S. And when those near launch
            there will be leaks of something else. But when
            you tally up all the people looking for an
            Android experience the real tale is told.
            storm14k
          • Seen this before....

            You see it's always Apple against the world. Well I mean in the way
            sales figures are juggled about. I mean Dell sells X amount of PC's
            right but when it comes to Apple people think in terms of every single
            PC sold year after years so Apple does not compete with Dell Apple
            competes with Dell, HP, IBM or the Chinese now, and a host of
            nameless clones. Fair right? Then after the unfair hardware
            comparisons there is the OS war. Apple sells it's OS on it's hardware
            but not to everyone else MS who is the girl who sleeps with everyone
            and anyone gets all the bragging rights:P Odd that:) But still very
            few people take the time to look at the advantages for Apple like the
            best profit margins in the industry. Apple owns it's own OS.. Dell is
            subject to MS's whims. Apple controls it's destiny completely Dell
            does not nor does MS. I have not doubt that Android as an OS will sell
            in big volume but I've never been impressed with that ability. After all
            you Wal Mart does the same. Not impressed.

            Pagan jim
            James Quinn
          • From an Apple fans standpoint that may make sense...

            But for everybody else its just a computer and
            OSX is just an OS. So its not Apple against the
            world. Its Apple in the market place just like
            everyone else....nothing special.

            I don't knock Apple for owning its OS. I think
            thats the way the computer manufacturers should
            go. Well in the smartphone realm thats exactly
            what has happened. The smartphone makers are
            able to take Android and make it their own while
            the consumer is able to benefit from it still
            being one OS across product lines.

            As far as volume sales you'd have to be
            impressed with that ability because its the only
            thing iPhone has over Android at this point. The
            iPhone OS 4 features are almost 100% catchup
            features to Android and its still lacking...and
            it will only get worse.
            storm14k
          • Time wil tell....

            I don't really "trust" predictions. You've obviously got a thing about
            Apple based on all the times I've seen you on Apple related articles.
            What I don't doubt is that Android is the first serious competition to the
            iPhone but that makes it serious competition to RIM and WM does it not?
            Could be that Apple and iPhone sales continue to grow like oh say LAST
            quarter or something and what happens with Androids impact is it sucks
            the life out of WM and or RIM. To be honest I don't know what is going
            to happen but Apple does not have to win the volume numbers to win.
            That is good business.

            Pagan jim
            James Quinn
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  • Not the way they are playing it....

    AT&T is worthless, any one who wants a smart phone on AT&T will more than likely get an iPhone. and Tmobile just does not have the customer base.

    Verizon however does.
    mrlinux
    • AT&T "worthless"?

      Aparrently, the market values AT&T at $155Bn whereas the market values Verizon as being worth $83Bn.
      de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
    • Dreamtime

      All ATT needs is a couple of GOOD android options. These Dell units look like they could definitely get thing rolling.

      Want to see a bit more, but I would take a Thunder.

      ...
      rhonin
  • Something dubbed the Froyo?? LMAO....

    Froyo is the next version of Android (2.2).

    Anyway as others have mentioned they are going to run
    into problems with AT&T. So far Android devices seemed
    to be stripped of alot of functionality and most assume
    its demanded by AT&T to keep Apple happy. I assume they
    could end up doing the same with WP7.

    However if they can get past that they are coming out
    with a vengeance at least on the Android side of things
    and may rival HTC for putting out Android devices. It
    will be interesting to see their UI enhancements.
    storm14k
    • That doesn't seem to make sense too me.

      Why would AT&T care what Apple wants? I mean I would think that
      Verison and others will be more than happy to allow Android to shine
      right? So why would AT&T ties it's hands and how could Apple force it
      to? Is the iPhone that powerful or impressive to AT&T's bottom line?
      Even "IF" this is so (and I have my doubts) and Android is as impressive
      as many have said then AT&T would only be kicking it's own backside in
      both long and short run right? No I don't think that makes business
      sense.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Well

        Thats been the track record so far for Android
        phones on AT&T. Their Backflip phone is
        obviously not the experience you see on other
        MotoBlur devices. Currently people looking for
        Android devices sigh when they hear one is going
        to AT&T because right now the expectation is
        that it will be gutted.

        AT&T wants to keep the iPhone exclusive. Apple
        really can't stand the competition being
        presented from Android. If AT&T starts providing
        a full Android experience to their customers I'm
        sure Apple would start threatening to expand to
        other carriers. With AT&T's service record I
        imagine people would leave. So I'm sure theres
        some pressure from Apple to not promote Android
        devices.

        So in a nutshell AT&T has to decide if its going
        to make its money off Android devices or the
        iPhone. If I were them I'd go with the iPhone
        for now because no one is going to come running
        to them for Android when it can be had on a
        better network...unless they have some
        compelling exclusive devices. I guess we'll see
        for sure pretty soon when these Dell devices hit
        along with some others.
        storm14k
  • Hoping for a major player

    Competition is good. I hope Dell can pull it off and be a major player. Three years ago, could anyone imagine the kind of power and flexibility we would have with smartphones? Still, we are still light years behind Korea and Japan with the kind of smartphones they have.
    mstrsfty
    • Are you sure about that?

      The hole Korea and Japan being light years ahead thing? I mean I'll give
      you their smartphones have loads of "features" but myself being an
      iPhone user and in general an Apple user for I own a 24" iMac I'm not so
      much into features alone. I need the device ot be well thought out with
      usability being THE priority. I think culturally Japan and perhaps Korea is
      a "features" wonk type. They get off and take pride in working those
      features no matter how many hoops they may have to jump threw to get
      a use out of them. In fact i'd go so far as they LIKE to do that kind of
      thing. Me not so much.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Usability really has become and excuse for lack of features and functions.

        Simply starving a device of features does not
        improve usability. Usability is as much about
        what you are able to do as it is how easy it is
        to do it. It really doesn't matter how easy it
        is to do function A,B and C if you also need X,Y
        and Z and the device isn't capable of doing
        those. If it can't then its not usable.
        Usability has really just become an empty
        argument tossed out by iPhone users when they
        see another device doing things their phone
        can't.
        storm14k
        • And your point is further strengthened with every OS upgrade

          Excellent post storm14k! Everything the Apple
          zealots has said were evil features in other
          phones ends up in later versions of the OS and
          are celebrated as being the best thing ever
          [b]invented[/b].

          Native apps suck!!! Well, until iPhone got
          them.

          Copy and paste sucks!!! Well, until iPhone got
          it.

          Multi-tasking sucks!!! Well, until iPhone gets
          it.

          Resolutions higher than 483*320 suck!!! Well,
          unless iPhone gets it.
          NonZealot
          • Where have I said such?

            Still don't use copy n paste.

            Haven't upgraded to iPhone 4.0 so no I'm not using multitasking and
            as far as I know I'm using it now anyway for much of the Apple Apps I
            have on the iPhone do multitask or at least that is what I've been told
            so again I'm not sure i'd even notice a difference when I get multi
            tasking?

            Native Apps? Huh? I don't even know what that is so I know I've never
            commented on it.

            Resolution increase? I've no complaint with my resolution now and I
            have no plans to purchase a new phone as of yet. I guess I always
            thought that hardware always improves from one gen to the next so I
            guess on some level I expected that this would happen sooner or later
            however I don't need it and I wonder how much it would improve my
            life when I do eventually get it?

            Pagan jim
            James Quinn