Dude, Are You Getting a Dell Phone?

The first smartphone from Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) is coming soon to AT&T (NYSE: T  ) .

Almost buried as an afterthought in AT&T's announcement of coming smartphones from Palm (Nasdaq: PALM  ) , the Dell Aero is the carrier's second phone built around the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android software platform. It's also Dell's first major handheld gadget in the U.S. since the company discontinued its Axim line of PDAs in 2007, citing a "steadily declining market for pen-based PDAs."

That was just about when Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) launched the first iPhone and showed that there was a market for a new, finger-based PDA-like gadget. In that sense, the Aero could be seen as a revived Axim, with shiny new software and a refreshed hardware inventory. Dell still called the Axim a success even as the company announced its demise, so I imagine that the return to the handheld market is a welcome one. Dell could certainly use any edge it can grab as Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) , Apple, and others turn Dell's formerly market-leading PC division into an eternal pretender.

The Aero appears to be a rehashed Mini 3, the smartphone Dell sells in markets like China and Brazil. A few months of working out the kinks in this design elsewhere should ensure a trouble-free product for the American market, even if the hardware might lag behind top-shelf models like the Nexus One.

The Aero is not likely to make a huge splash when it hits store and virtual shelves later this year. Dell's brand name might attract a few curious shoppers, but there are lots of other smartphones with equally strong consumer pulls and other selling points, including an onrush of Android devices. Dell will get lost in the flood, at least for a while. If the Aero gets a sequel, one that applies the lessons learned from this first outing, Dell might become a force to be reckoned with in call-enabled PDAs. Uh, I mean "smartphones."

Check Dell's smartphone business again in 2011 or 2012, in other words.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (9)

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  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2010, at 6:54 PM, daveshouston wrote:

    I will guarantee you this much. They're certainly not going to come out with a product that is worrisome to Apple and the iPhone. Dell doesn't do quality. Dell does cheap.

    Their whole program is to buy parts, assemble them, use purchased software, and then put it out into the market along with customer support from India.

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2010, at 6:58 PM, FreeRange1 wrote:

    This phone is DOA. Dell has historically been an industry laggard in the amount they spend on R&D, and announcing this device is just another example of their failure to innovate. Marketing 101, "me too" is not the way to succeed, and most certainly not in this space.

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2010, at 6:59 PM, FreeRange1 wrote:

    This phone is DOA. Dell has historically been an industry laggard in the amount they spend on R&D, and announcing this device is just another example of their failure to innovate. Marketing 101, "me too" is not the way to succeed, and most certainly not in this space.

  • Report this Comment On August 19, 2010, at 1:07 AM, Jehnavi wrote:

    The reports of these slides appear as smooth as hell, but can not compete with the spec sheet, which looks even better: 1 GHz QSD8250 Snapdragon processor, 4.1-inch WVGA OLED display, AT & T and T-Mobile 3G five megapixel camera with autofocus, flash 1 GB of RAM with 512 MB of more than 8 GB of storage on a microSD card.

    http://www.onlinenotebook.com/

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