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Now, Dell to bell smartphone cat

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VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Following a long period of speculations Dell, a frontrunner in PC for enterprise, the company has finally launched a smartphone in China. With this Dell has joined the bandwagon of PC vendors like Acer, Asus and Toshiba, who have diversified into smartphone category.

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The Dell Mini 3 smartphones will first be distributed in China through China Mobile and through Claro in Brazil before the end of 2009. By launching in Brazil and China first, it has clear focus on developing markets. However the company has not yet revealed plans for launches in other countries, including India.

Dell's smart device is called the Mini 3, and will be powered by Android operating system. The company didn't release pricing or further technical details on the phone. The company said details would be announced on a partner-by-partner basis, which hints that it is tailoring specifications to suit the needs of the market in which it's being sold.

The company's plunge on to the lucrative smartphone turf is very timely and will intensify. According to information technology research and advisory company Gartner, the PC vendors are exploring the flourishing smartphone market to offset a slump in computer sales. Smartphone sales will grow 29% year-over-year to reach 180 mn units in 2009, overtaking notebooks in their total unit terms, says Gartner's recent report.

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Smartphones account for 14% of the overall mobile device sales, Gartner expects that by 2012 they will make up around 37% of global handset sales. Smartphone revenue is forecast to reach $191 mn by 2012, higher than end-user spending on mobile PCs, which is forecast to reach $152 mn in 2012. From 2009, user spending on smartphones will start to surpass the forecast for consumer notebooks.

The PC maker calls its entry into the smart phone category a logical extension of its consumer product evolution over the past two years. Ron Garriques, president, Dell Global Consumer Group, says, "We are developing smaller and smarter mobile products that enable our customers to take their Internet experience out of the home and do the things they want to do whenever and wherever they want."

Like its contenders, the fight will not be a cakewalk for Dell as well. Analysts warn that while convergence of technologies offers an opportunity to enter into the smartphone arena, the business models, go to market and positioning of products is very different from the PC market.

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In its earlier attempt to trace the footsteps of the world's most influential consumer computer maker Apple, it had made an unsuccessful attempt to give Apple ipod competition. A consolation to Dell could be that it was company's experiment with consumer product, a space where Dell is not too strong.

The other tech company that can compete with Dell as far as enterprise saturation is Research in Motion. BlackBerry has emerged a must have accessory of the businessperson. Dell will have to pull out really compelling offers beyond special Dell suite of Dell software to connect your Dell servers to your Dell smartphones or better package deals on hardware when you buy everything together to beat RIM, which is already doing these.

Heena Jhingan

heenaj@cybermedia.co.in

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