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Dell developing Google Android handset, moles claim

Mobile World Congress outing?

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Dell will unveil a smartphone based on Google's Android platform and it'll do so at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) show in Barcelona next month.

At least, that's what unnamed "senior industry sources" cited by UK trade paper Marketing Week claim.

It also admitted Google insiders say that there's no near-future announcement on the calendar.

Google announced the open source, Linux-based Android back in November 2007, and while the platform's pitched as a Google initiative, it has plenty of support, mobile phone majors like Samsung and Motorola among them. Android's tied firmly into Google's online apps, and is essentially a way to get the advertising company's 'word from our sponsor' wares out in front of eyes on the move.

Dell's tried smarphones before, shifting its Axim PDA family into the communictor arena a few years back. But, as HP found with iPaq, there's a preference for phones that provide PDA functions rather than PDAs that can make phone calls, and the Axim line waned and was eventually killed off altogether.

Second time lucky? Well, with an open source foundation, Android - which isn't due to appear until later this year - makes it less expensive for Dell to get back into the phone market. And with former Motorola chief Ron Garriques running its consumer operation, it's better placed to pitch a mainstream device than it was in the Axim era.

Finally, while MWC is well ahead of Android's debut, it's become the pre-eminent event for not only near-term product announcements, but also statements of strategic direction. As such, it would be the ideal arena for Dell to mark its return to the mobile market.

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