How Dell will Revolutionize the Mobile Industry

February 6, 2009

by joseph.young.2009

I was reading one of my preferred blogs and came across some news that Dell is trying to decide between Windows Mobile and Android for a potential mobile device.One quote that tipped me off was

“SAI also heard that the device would focus on ‘customization,’ whatever that means” – MG Siegler

“Customization” means that Dell is going to do for mobile phones what it did for the PC industry: just in time manufacturing.

The mobile industry has been making one-off designs for as long as I can remember. Though there where form factors that had lasting power, Motorola’s StarTac and Razr series, no cell phone company has standardized phone designs and operating systems. Dell will enter the mobile market with two popular form factors: candybar and slider.

The first is the candybar touchscreen. The leader in this form factor is Apple’s iPhone. It’s the gold standard that all other candybar touchscreen phones aspire to be.

Apple iPhone

Apple iPhone

The other rumored form factor is the qwerty horizontal slider. Though there isn’t a design leader in this form factor, and the best one that comes to mind is the T-Mobile G1. Though it’s not a pure slider, it’s the best of the bunch.

t-mobile G1

t-mobile G1

With these two form factors, Dell will offer at least two operating systems. Windows Mobile will be targeted towards business users, and Android will be tarted towards the consumer. Dell can create a unified OS for the two operating systems so that using them can be very similar. The idea is to get customers used to the Dell smartphone. It can have the design team that worked on the Studio line of laptops work on the phone too. By knowing your form factor and your operating system, Dell can create products almost as well as a vertically integrated company (Apple).

If these initial shapes and OS’s are succesful, Dell will most likely attack all segments of the market quickly to capture as much market share as possible. They may also try to integrate Symbial s60 into their phones as well. At that point, Dell would only need to focus on hardware design and integration with a limited number of platforms. The combinations for customers is tremendous though. Three operating systems and four form factors results in 12 different devices. But from the manufacturing standpoint, it’s all the same. The only difference is the firmware you load on all the last minute with region and OS specific cables and documentation.

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