Whenever Dell does unveil its much-hinted-about new handset, it will apparently be taking a nontraditional route to the market, according to an analyst report Monday.
Dell has decided to sell its new product through retailers only, Ashok Kumar of Collins Stewart said. While that's certainly interesting, and in line with Dell's recent record of testing new ways of approaching the market with its products, the reason Kumar gives is far more tantalizing: he says U.S. and European carriers were none too impressed with Dell's effort when the company tried to sign up some wireless partners during a meeting at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month.
"The carriers, who see products from all the leading handset vendors, have decided to pass on Dell's handset," he wrote in a research note Monday. "Some carriers are citing a noncompelling product with a road map that lags competition."
Dell hasn't responded to a request for comment. But if Kumar's claims are true, this presents serious problems for Dell. The company already has relationships with some of the major carriers, including AT&T and Verizon Wireless, to sell wireless-service plans for its notebooks and Netbooks in the United States and in Europe. Rejecting what will, by its very nature, be a high-profile product from a current business partner doesn't speak very well of the product's competitiveness.
Having been rejected from the major carriers will also handicap the device from the start, since U.S. consumers are conditioned to buying subsidized phones and may balk at paying a full price. But the bigger problem is that there's just not that much market share left to grab, especially without the marketing might of large carriers behind it.
"It's a crowded market. Two years ago, (Dell) may have had an opportunity, but (Research In Motion), Nokia, and Apple have been joined by HTC, Samsung, LG, Palm, Motorola, (and Acer)," Kumar said in an interview. "The market is extremely crowded just as it's slowing down." … Read more