Dell Handset in the Works?

Following the poaching of Moto handset guru Ron Garriques last week, rumours abound that Dell will soon be entering into the mobile handset market.

Last week Dell head-hunted Garriques, who’s resigned as Motorola’s Executive Vice President and President of the Company’s Mobile Devices business, and started work at Dell to run a newly formed division focusing on consumer products.

Dell CEO Michael Dell said "We are asking Ron to create a new global consumer organization that will set new standards for innovative product design, leadership in providing the best customer experience, and flexibility in how we build and distribute products and services to meet the evolving needs of our customers around the world."

Not giving away much, let the speculation begin.

Garriques resigned as Motorola’s Executive Vice President and President of the Company’s Mobile Devices business earlier this month and the industry is rife with rumours that he will be the driving force behind the launch of Dell branded mobiles.

If Dell do break into the phone market, they’ll more than likely outsource the production of the phones and rebadge them with its own brand name, as is the case with the majority of its current computers.

Dell’s handsets will more than likely be Windows smartphones, continuing the relationship they have with Microsoft. They already sell their own PDAs, and the barriers to stepping up to a mobile handset aren’t that great, especially with the resources at Dell’s disposal.

Dell traditionally sells products direct, and a phone would raise a number of complications with the way the current market works through operators. However, Apple have broken the mould and have total control over the iPhone, with Cingular only a conduit to consumers.

Although there is a danger that consumers may snub direct phones in favour of heavily subsidised handsets from operators, the wind is changing. Nokia have launched a central London store and accompanying website where it sells SIM free phones direct. Apple is also expected to sell the iPhone through their own stores when it launches the handset later this year. Prepay consumers, the majority of the global user base, don’t expect subsidies and are used to paying high prices for top-end handsets.  

As mobile handsets become more and more like mini computers it doesn’t seem impossible for Dell to produce the world’s first modular phone, with consumers ordering specific functions and options for their phone, in the same way as the computers, then choosing whichever operator suits them best.

Let’s just hope that Garriques doesn’t adopt the same vision he had at Moto, and just release the same phone over and over again in different colours.

Sparkly pink limited edition smartphone anyone?

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