Dell to Make Both WinMo and Android Phones, Motorola Steps Back from Windows

The rumor now is that Dell will make both Android and Windows Mobile phones. While this is something of a hedge, it's probably smart for Dell to make both models.

Making only a Windows Mobile phone would have been almost a pointless exercise since there are already so many WinMo handsets in the market and it would have to go up against BlackBerry. Unless it was somehow a miracle device it wouldn't have provided Dell much traction or attention beyond the immediate launch period. 

If the company had to make only one phone, Android would have been a better bet -- to gain attention. However by making both it may have an opportunity to appeal to a broader range of consumers and enterprise customers (where it might be able to leverage existing sales relationships).

Price is also a big issue. Without a carrier subsidy these new smartphones phones -- unless they're spectacular -- will have limited appeal.

In one way of looking at the world, it might have been ultimately smarter for Dell to make a non-phone, Kindle-like Internet device instead of trying to enter the increasingly crowded smartphone market. 

Motorola, also planning to bring out an Android phone at some point this year, has implied that it prefers the Android OS to Windows Mobile and is "demoting" the latter in its product lineup. According to the Wall Street Journal

Last fall, Co-Chief Executive Sanjay Jha, who was brought in to turn around the cellphone unit, known as Mobile Devices, unveiled a restructuring that involved reducing the number of software platforms Motorola uses for its phones, and instead focuses on Web-capable phones operating on Google Inc.'s Android and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Mobile systems.

Now there are signs Motorola is shifting away from Windows as well. Its recent job cuts included a team of more than 70 employees working on the Windows Mobile platform at its facility in Plantation, Fla.

Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha reportedly argued on the earnings call this morning (net Q4 loss of $3.6 billion) that Android is "more competitive" than the current version of Windows Mobile. According to Silicon Alley Insider:

Android is "more competitive" than the current Windows Mobile 6, Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha said on the company's Q4 earnings call this morning.

Microsoft is planning to introduce Windows Mobile 6.5 in Barcelona in a couple weeks in recognition of the fact that it can't wait for Windows Mobile 7 to come out in 2010. 

The world has moved very quickly in the last 12 months. Windows Mobile now faces a much more competitive landscape and it remains to be seen whether the OS can regain momentum (notwithstanding lots of unit sales in Q4). It would appear, at least from Motorola's remarks, that Android is indeed a threat to Windows Mobile -- as we previously speculated

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Related: Toshiba is preparing a touch screen Windows Mobile phone for non-US markets.