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Dell comes clean over smart phone intentions

Tell us what you want, Mr Operator.

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Dell has confirmed its smart phone intentions after admitting that it plans to enter the consumer and small and medium-sized business (SMB) smart phone market by working with several major carriers globally.

"What operators want from us is a [smartphone] solution that's about supporting their technology...and their value-added services," said Ron Garriques, president of Dell's consumer division. His comments were part of a recording of the analyst event available at Dell's website.

Garriques did not mention by name any carriers Dell is talking to, but mentioned three technologies the company is being asked to support: LTE, WiMax and TDSCDMA, which is used in China. "I don't believe any operators care how we execute," he said. "They want us to be an integrator" of hardware, software and designs.

Stephen Felice, president of Dell's SMB unit, said there's "definitely demand" for smart phones by business users, adding that carriers don't care whether Dell actually manufactures the product itself. "I see an opportunity for us to broaden our capability in this space."

Garriques said the opportunities for Dell extend to devices larger than smart phones, but noted it will be up to various carriers to drive product development. Dell plans to "target the top three to four [carriers] and see what their needs are. We'll take it operator by operator [to find their needs], as opposed to saying, 'We'll target the MID [Mobile Internet Device] space' or whatever."

Dell already controls about 10 percent of the consumer PC market.

Garriques also said that Dell has many workers capable of finding out what carriers want, stressing that "there are massive needs not being met by traditional players" for smart phones and other devices. "The door is very open for us around the world," he said. "I'm very bullish we can meet those needs."

With WiMax just beginning to roll out in the US, and with LTE expected to reach many US cities in 2012, a Dell smart phone in the United States could be years from fruition. But the advent of a Dell smart phone based on Android could come much sooner in China, if one analyst is on target.

While speculation about Dell's involvement in the smart phone space is not new, analyst Ashok Kumar at Collins Stewart wrote a report recently saying he believes Dell would soon release a phone in China that runs on the Android operating system. Kumar's view was included in a report by the Financial Times.

Many analysts have said it is only a matter of time before Dell enters the smart phone arena, with one reason for that assumption being that Garriques used to head up the phone division at Motorola and had signed a non-compete clause when he came to Dell to head the consumer division. That non-compete provision reportedly expired earlier this year.



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