LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Dell Inc is bringing its first-ever smartphone to the United States with AT&T Inc as the carrier, making a push into mobile devices as its core personal computer business struggles.
Dell said on Wednesday that AT&T will carry a smartphone from Dell’s Mini 3 family, a touchscreen device based on Google Inc’s Android mobile operating system.
The company declined to provide details on pricing or availability of the phone, expected in the first half of 2010.
Dell’s smartphone was formally announced late last year and is currently available only in China and Brazil. A source had told Reuters in October that Dell planned to sell a phone in the United States on AT&T’s network.
When asked how the Mini 3 was selling in its brief time on the market, Michael Tatelman, vice president of consumer sales and marketing at Dell, said, “We’re happy with where we are.”
Enderle Group analyst Rob Enderle said Dell faces a tough challenge in the United States, which is already crammed with popular devices such as Apple Inc’s iPhone, Research in Motion Ltd’s BlackBerry and Google’s just announced Nexus One.
Enderle said the key to Dell’s success will be marketing the Mini 3, and that AT&T’s network’s has plenty of U.S. reach. AT&T has more than 81 million wireless subscribers, the second-largest, behind Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc.
Dell’s smartphone is part of its concerted push into the mobility arena. Last month the company formed a separate business unit focused on communications and mobile devices.
“If you look at trends in the business in the next three to five years, it’s fair to say that every device is going to be connected all the time,” Tatelman said, adding that Dell was looking to form close relationships with mobile operators.
Dell relies heavily on commercial sales of PCs, and its business has been hit hard by the economic downturn. The company fell to third place in the global PC market last quarter, behind Hewlett-Packard Co and Acer Inc which also sell smartphones.
At the same time, Dell has looked to expand its reach with consumers. Dell will hold a media event on Thursday in Las Vegas in connection with the Consumer Electronics Show.
Although Tatelman declined to provide details, he said Dell will be unveiling an “ultramobile gaming platform” from its high-end Alienware brand.
“I expect it to be one of the top consumer electronics products for 2010,” he said.
Dell will also show off some concept devices in other screen sizes and forms, he said.
Reporting by Gabriel Madway; Editing by Tim Dobbyn