Dell is partnering with AT&T to come to market on its home turf with an Android-based smartphone. But the company faces an enormous challenge in carving out a share of the cutthroat market.

Dell today said it will team with AT&T to enter the U.S. market with an Android-based smartphone. But the longtime computer vendor could face challenges in making any headway on its home turf.

Dell expanded into mobile two months ago with the Mini 3, an Android-based gadget available in China and Brazil. While the companies offered few details, the new AT&T phone will be a version of the Mini 3 and is expected to debut in the next several months.

The move will mark the first Android phone for AT&T, which will be the last tier-one carrier to offer Google’s smartphone operating system. Dell, meanwhile, adds to an impressive list of carrier customers that also includes Vodafone and China Mobile.

But Dell faces an uphill battle as it comes to market in the U.S. It will be tough to draw attention to the Mini 3 among an ever-increasing number of Android handsets, and taking the spotlight away from Google’s new Nexus One and — to a lesser extent — Motorola’s Droid from Verizon Wireless won’t be easy. Perhaps its biggest challenge, though, will be drawing data-hungry customers to AT&T’s network, which has struggled to handle the congestion of iPhone users. The Mini 3 will not only have to be a compelling device, it will have to be heavily promoted if AT&T and Dell are going to lure users away from the competition — because a good product alone isn’t enough to secure market share in the space, as Palm can tell you.

Image courtesy of Dell’s official Flickr page.

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  1. ATT also announced Motorola & HTC Android devices were coming soon. I sort of see the Dell phone filling a niche in corporate America more than with the consumer. Dell will probably sell it direct to its large enterprise customers (maybe?). I think most consumers (me included) would be looking at the Moto or HTC phones before the Dell. I agree with your assessment that they will have a tough time gathering a following here in the US.

  2. yeah its waste of money to buy when you got better and cheaper from dedicated mobile players like htc, moto, samsung

  3. My 2c. the smartphone space is overcrowded and needs a DNA which they just dont have. even the mighty Nokia is struggling to succeed, how can they draw attention to themselves, out-innovate (constantly), create the ecosystem (ala app stores etc) and do it all price competatively. Looking at my crystal ball, Dell will be a non-player and will shut down its mobile ops in 12-18 mos. This euphoria reminds me of the networking infrastructure euphoria of 00-02 with over-investment (i.e. acquisitions) followed by closure of divisions/divestures/write-downs.

  4. Can someone say ‘also ran’, this would have been a great phone a year ago. I think I’ll go with the Nexus One to get the full experience.

  5. All Dell has to do is include full Exchange sync (or at least mail, calendar, contacts and tasks) with a nicer UI than Nitrodesk’s, and a big market is theirs for the taking.

    On one level I can understand why Google isn’t making it easy for Exchange users. But it’s a short-sighted approach, and one that leaves a big door open for Dell.

    Dell – call Haykuro now, if you haven’t already.

  6. How Much Will AT&T webOS Phones Help Palm? – jkOnTheRun Thursday, February 11, 2010

    [...] to compete with and only five are expected in the first half of this year — Motorola, HTC and Dell are all in named providers. In fact, if Palm could get on AT&T sooner than later, I think it [...]

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