Dell earlier this week showed off a smartphone prototype called the Mini 3i to be sold in China. The big question: Does Dell have a chance in the smartphone market?
The company hasn't announced anything yet, but there's sure to be a smartphone question or two on Dell's second quarter earnings conference call given the blog chatter. Dell is expected to report another so-so quarter with most analysts anxiously awaiting some transformational acquisition to shift the company's business toward higher margin endevours (think services).
It's odd that perhaps the most interesting item from Dell---whether the company is serious about a smartphone---will get the least amount (if any) of play. Wall Street will compare Dell to Thomson Reuters earnings estimates of 23 cents a share on revenue of $12.6 billion and move along.
Does Dell stand a chance in China? Yes. Why? Ron Garriques, Dell's president of the global consumer business, used be Motorola's main man in China. Garriques helped launch the Motorola MOTOMING touchscreen device in China back in 2006.
Given Garriques contacts and knowledge of China Dell may have some inroads that other newbies wouldn't. MOTOMING became the top selling phone in China for a spell, say analysts.
Garriques is one reason that analysts aren't completely dismissing Dell as a smartphone player. To wit: Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Jeffrey Fidacaro writes in a research note:
We believe Dell has a unique window of opportunity to establish a foothold in China Mobile’s 498 mln and growing subscriber base by leveraging Ron Garriques’s experience and success at Motorola when it launched the MOTOMING in China, and since Dell would not yet face competition from the current smartphone heavyweights Apple and RIM in this market.
It should be noted that Fidicaro's note was penned on Monday. The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is close (yet again) to launching the iPhone in China. Nevertheless, Fidacaro estimates that Dell could enter the smartphone market and provide an earnings bump in fiscal 2011.
Like Dell's analyst meeting executives are likely to give smartphones a passing mention but nothing more. Dell's success is mostly tethered to PC demand and enterprise technology spending and that's not going to change for awhile.