Dell left the pocket pc business a couple years ago due to declining sales. Since then smartphones have become the order of the day and that segment has grown enough that it may give Dell the impetus to get into the market. And with the lack of hardware advancement (most new smartphones and PDAs use similar hardware from 4 years ago), Dell could possibly just use their old components to make a “new” device.
But smartphone users are not only sophisticated, they demand the latest in features. Dell’s Axim series offered excellent value and performance in the past, and they will have to put forth a mighty effort to stand out in a crowded Windows Mobile market. But they have the talent, according to Wired:
Speculation about Dell’s move into the smartphone market has been around for a few years now. In 2007, Dell hired Ron Garriques, a former Motorola executive known as the force behind the RAZR phone, as president of its consumer business. “That’s what sparked all the chatter,” says Reith.
Coincidentally, Dell has a heap of leftover fans from the Axim days at this very site. Though many have moved on to BlackBerry, Android, Symbian, Palm and iPhone, if Dell can recapture the magic they had with their last great device, the Axim x51v, perhaps they can make a significant ripple in the market. But they will have an uphill climb. Besides the many Operating Systems offerings, competition is intense even between Windows Mobile devices. HTC is considered the market leader. They used to make OEM machines but decided they didn’t need to make machines for other manufacturers when they could make more money selling them directly. Will Dell again have HTC make their products? How will Dell differentiate itself among the many Windows Mobile products, assuming that’s their OS? How will they stand out among the many Operating Systems being offered in so many phones? Further, Microsoft has recently announced that they will limit the number of devices running Windows Mobile in 2009, and Dell will have to sell tons of them to make it worth their while.
Dell has been successful in the PDA market, but face significant challenges in the smartphone world. Windows Mobile has grown a bit old, especially compared to newer offerings by Apple, Palm, RIM and Android. HTC has begun to add its own flavor to Windows Mobile, but many consider that window dressing. Can Dell overcome these obstacles and gain a significant market share?