Dell plans smartphone with AT&T

Dell will become the latest tech manufacturer to try and establish a footprint in a fast-growing market dominated by Apple and Research in Motion. Its planned phone would also give a boost to Google’s fledgling mobile platform, which vies with Apple’s and Microsoft’s platforms.

A source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters Dell plans to introduce a US version of its ‘oPhone’ for China –— which runs on Android –— and that the device had been certified by AT&T for its domestic network. The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news on Wednesday, cited people briefed on the matter as saying Dell’s phone could be launched as soon as early 2010.

Smartphones — or cellphones that come with an array of complex functions from email to multimedia — have exploded onto the corporate and consumer market as users increasingly access information and entertainment on the go.

Worldwide factory shipments of smart phones are expected to rise to 235.6 million units in 2010, up 27.9 per cent from 184.2 million in 2009, according to iSuppli. That is a far cry from a 12.3 per cent decline projected for cellphones overall in 2009. But analysts warn that the world’s Dell would face a tough challenge in a market already crowded with competition.

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