Dell’s Bad Luck with Smartphones: A Brief History

Dell’s dropping two more smartphones from its lineup, throwing in the towel on the Venue and Venue Pro.  The hardware maker  announced that they will be discontinuing the production in the US, stating mobile products have a shorter lifespan compared to desktops and laptops, where they will be refocusing their efforts.

It’s not the first mobile product that Dell’s discontinued.  Last year they shut down two tablets: the Streak 5 and Streak 7.  Dell’s mobile devices aren’t really hitting it off in the US market, but they’re not out of the game yet.  Earlier this year they revealed the possibility of their first commercial tablet, expected to be Windows 8-based, later this year.

So what pushed a computer maker to venture into the mobile market?  Read on to find out.

What started it all

In 2002, Dell entered the personal digital assistant (PDA) market with the Axim X5.  PDAs are handheld computers, much like the smartphones we have these days.  They are often carried by businessmen to help them keep track of their meetings and other important business matters.  The Axim X51, which was released in 2005, has a partially functional port for Google’s Android platform.

Fast track to 2010, Dell released their first ever smartphone, the Dell Aero, which debuted as the lightest Android smartphone, in August.  Unfortunately, because of its unintuitive user interface, sluggish performance, limited capabilities and functionality, it wasn’t embraced by consumers.  Some of those who did buy the device were extremely disappointed.

After a few months, Dell released the Windows-based Dell Venue Pro in November, and the Android-based Dell Venue in December.

The Dell Venue Pro, codenamed Lightning, launched at T-Mobile, AT&T and Cincinnati Bell Wireless.  It is a Windows Phone 7-based smartphone which features Corning Gorilla Glass and an AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, has multitouch, 8/16 GB storage which can be upgraded to up to 32GB with a microSD, 512 MB RAM, 1 GB ROM, HSDPA 7.2 Mbps, Wi-Fi, 5MP camera with LED flash, Qualcomm QSD8250 Snapdragon, and more.

The issues with the Venue Pro started when customers who ordered the device didn’t get them on time, added to Dell’s rude customer service reps, device issues with Wi-Fi, and the RAM was reportedly lower than advertised.

The Dell Venue, codenamed Thunder, launched at AT&T and T-Mobile in the US and KT in South Korea.  Because of the delay in shipments for the Dell Venue Pro, the Dell Venue was the second Dell smartphone released in the US.  It featured Corning Gorilla Glass, Dell’s Stage UI, an AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 512 MB RAM, 1 GB ROM, and can be expanded to up to 32GB with microSD, HSDPA 7.2 Mbps, Wi-Fi, 8MP camera with LED flash, Qualcomm QSD8250 Snapdragon, runs on Android 2.2 a.k.a. Froyo, and more.

In the same year, Dell also launched cheaper Android phones in India, the Dell XCD28 and the Dell XCD35.  Both devices run on Android 2.1 Eclair, 3G HSDPA connectivity. The Dell XCD28 has a 2.8 inch resistive touchscreen display and a 3.2 MP camera while the Dell XCD35 has a 3.5 inch capacitive touchscreen display.

So what’s wrong with Dell smartphones?

If you look at the specifications of Dell smartphones, they’re not too shabby, but the reviews on their devices makes their devices seem like smartphones from hell.  But was it because of the operating system?

Dell gave the market an Android and a Windows-based smartphone line, both didn’t do well with either.  But most of Dell’s products were Android-based, so maybe people were just tired of seeing “another Android smartphone.”  And with competitive pricing in the Android market, there’s plenty of alternatives to the Venue and Venue Pro.

So maybe if they focused on making Windows-based phones, they could get a better crack at the mobile market.  And as I’ve mentioned earlier in the article, there’s a possibility that Dell will be releasing a Windows 8 tablet, and though they haven’t said anything about a smartphone, we can’t take that off their plate all together.