Dell’s Aero smartphone bows

By Dow Jones Newswires
Posted Aug. 24, 2010 at 12:28 p.m.

Dell Inc. put its first U.S. smartphone on sale on Tuesday, making the computer maker the latest technology manufacturer to enter the competitive mobile handset market.

The Round Rock, Texas-based company said its 3.5-inch touchscreen phone, dubbed the Aero, runs on Google Inc.’s Android operating system and is available for $99.99 with a new two-year contract from AT&T Inc. and $299.99 without. It can be ordered on Dell’s Web site.
The move comes as manufacturers jockey for position in the increasingly competitive smartphone market before of the holiday shopping season.

Energized by the release of Apple Inc.’s iPhone in 2007, smartphones — or mobile handsets with advanced software capable of reading e-mail and surfing the Web — have become increasingly popular and a driver of sales for many hardware makers.

Global smartphone sales are expected to double to 506 million units within four years, industry tracker iSuppli said this summer.

Aero is not Dell’s first smartphone. Late last year, the company began selling the Mini 3i, in China, sparking speculation it would offer similar products in other countries. Dell has not released details as to how well the Mini 3i has sold in China.

Dell said the Aero would support a version of Adobe Systems Inc.’s  Flash, a key software program that powers most Internet video and advertising. Flash has become a hot-button issue among technology companies since Apple publicly announced it would not support the software in its popular iPhone and iPad tablet computer.

The Aero’s release follows initial U.S. sales of the company’s tablet computer, the Streak, which also doubles as a cell phone. Like the Aero, the tablet uses Android software.

In midday trading, Dell shares were down 3.6 percent, at $11.51.

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