Dell Builds Prototype Android and Windows Mobile Phones, May Finally Sell Them

Stop me if you've heard this one: Dell might go into the smartphone business. OOOLLLDDD? But today the WSJ reports Dell's closer than ever, with prototypes built in two different styles and two competing platforms.

The two styles may seem familiar to you, as demonstrated by my totally fake images above. One, we'll call "iPhone," is described by the Wall Street Journal as "a touchscreen but no physical keyboard." The other, which we'll call "Pre," is a "slider-style phone with a keypad and that slides from beneath the screen." Dell is reportedly exploring both Windows Mobile and Android, and has both operating systems running on its prototypes. The WSJ cites those always helpful "people familiar with the matter," and says the formal move into the phone market could happen as early as February, perhaps just in time for the 3GSM global phone biz show in Barcelona on the 15th.

As I so subtly alluded, Dell has been in the smartphone business, or at least rumored to be, for some time. We heard about an impending smartphone in April 2007, then again in December 2007, solidifying last January before being quickly smashed down again.

Just two weeks ago, the rumors surfaced again, as analyst extraordinaire Shaw Wu predicted Dell would do the Android secret handshake, publicly, at 3GSM. So the Journal report confirms these rumors, with solid substantiation. (Let's just hope the "people familiar with the matter" don't all turn out to be Shaw Wu wearing wigs and fake moustaches.)

As the Journal states, the most likely peg for this happening soon, and reason for the delay up till now, is that Ron Garriques, former head of the cell business at Motorola, can finally build phones for Dell. He left the burning building in Libertyville Schaumburg, IL for the greener pastures of Round Rock, TX under a noncompete clause that won't lift until...yep...next month. Garriques and his former Moto crony, John Thode—current head of netbooks and cheap PCs at Dell—are probably planning one heck of a comeback. If the combination of Dell and Motorola DNA doesn't render that completely impossible, that is. [WSJ]