Rumor: Dell to Unveil WinMo Smartphone

For almost a year Dell Computer has been contemplating a smartphone of its own, according to rumor and various reports. The prior speculation was that it would be an Android phone (Google had a "default search" partnership with Dell). But now the rumor is that at the upcoming GSM World Congress, Dell will introduce a Windows Mobile phone.

Dell is now Microsoft's search partner and so that would make some sense.

Dell has witnessed the success of the iPhone and is likely saying to itself: the smartphone is the new PC and if Apple can do it so can we.

Not so fast...

Another Windows Mobile phone that resembles an HP iPaq smartphone is likely to fall flat. Given the BlackBerry Storm, G1, Pre and iPhone -- not to mention HTC's efforts to "sex up" it own Windows Mobile line -- it will be very hard for Dell to gain customer attention. 

It would have to do something unique design-wise (or radically affordable) to gain consumer interest. In many ways it would make more sense for Dell to come out with a bold new mini-PC, ebook reader, Internet tablet or connected PND rather than a "me too" Windows Mobile smartphone.

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Microsoft itself implied that it would be cutting back on the number of Windows Mobile phones in the market. That represents a strategy shift of sorts, given that Redmond was previously trying to get WinMo on as many smartphones as it could, emulating the strategy that has made the company so successful on the desktop.

The problem is that Windows Mobile doesn't really have a consumer brand identity in the market. So tighter hardware-software/OS integration is called for in a newly more competitive handset environment.