Is Dell Aiming To Enter The Smartphone Market?

This won't be the first time we've heard the words "Dell" and "smartphone" in the same phrase, but considering the source here, we're much more inclined to believe something substantial is going on this go around. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Dell, the Round Rock powerhouse known almost entirely for its customizable desktop and notebook PCs, could invade the cellphone market as early as next month.

According to "people familiar with the matter," who are curiously unnamed in the report, the outfit has had a team of engineers working on the phones (yes, plural, as in more than one phone) for "more than a year from an office in the Chicago area." More specifically, the handsets being toyed with in this super secret lab were supposedly built around Google's Android operating system and Microsoft's widely used Windows Mobile software.

We're told that one of the trial models (likely much different than the Axim PDA pictured) included an expansive touchscreen but no QWERTY keyboard -- a trademark for handsets like Apple's iPhone and the HTC Touch Diamond -- while another is a "slider-style phone" with a keyboard that slips out from underneath, presumably like the T-Mobile G1. Before you go getting too excited about another big entrant in the blossoming smartphone realm, you should know that Dell hasn't officially finalized its plans and could still "abandon the effort."

Our take? We'd absolutely love to see Dell jump in here. The smartphone market has really erupted of late, and there's nothing better than more competition to keep everyone on their toes. We'll be watching intently to see if Dell makes a surprise showing at Mobile World Congress in March -- there's hardly a better time to officially launch a handset that in the Barcelona spotlight.