Will Dell create the first modular mobile phone?

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dell-logo.jpgThere’s an intriguing bit of speculation over on Telecoms.com, suggesting that Dell may be looking to produce its own mobile phone. It’s partly spurred by the news that Dell has recruited the former head of Motorola’s mobile devices division, Ron Garriques, to take charge of Dell’s new consumer products group.

It’s also logical to assume that Dell might want to start making mobile phones – given that the company makes laptops and PDAs, it’s not a huge leap to come out with a Windows Mobile smartphone.

The question is whether the way Dell traditionally does business – selling products directly to consumers, who can add and remove individual hardware and features on the firm’s website – will suit the mobile industry, which has tended to be more focused around mobile operators.

Telecoms.com thinks that’s not a problem, predicting that the number of phones sold directly through retailers or from manufacturers’ own websites is going to increase rapidly.

I’ll be blunt: few consumers would be excited by a Dell smartphone – it’d be no iPhone. But think about all those business users. It’s also not a great leap to imagine Dell bundling an own-brand mobile phone with its PCs and laptops, in much the same way it treated MP3 players in the past.

Could its modular approach work with phones, though? Imagine going on the Dell website and selecting from a bunch of drop-down menus the features you want. Two or three-megapixel camera? 128MB or 256MB memory card? Built-in GPS, Wi-Fi, or both? I don’t have the technical knowledge to judge if this is a pipedream, but if possible, that kind of customisation could help Dell make a mighty splash in the mobile market.

Stuart Dredge