While Funambol CEO Fabrizio Capobianco thinks Dell's move into smartphones is a good idea or, at least, the way it's going about it. I can't agree. Has he forgotten Dell's MP3 player?
The rest of the world certainly has.
In the smartphone market, as Capobianco notes, Dell is planning to do an open-source Google Android-based phone and a Windows Mobile-based phone, which he thinks makes sense:
I think it is a smart move. They do not take risk, they do not expose themselves too much, they will pick the winner later. The only risk of not making a move is not making a move. If the market moves too fast (it always does) they risk to be defocused and have to jump on one bandwagon quickly, dropping the other one. Motorola has done exactly that. But they are desperate. Dell is not.
It's true that Dell's open/closed approach is a less risky way than to pick one platform and go to market with only one, but the alternative is for Dell to realize that its track record in markets outside industrial enterprise markets is terrible and to stay out completely. Dell's MP3 player was worse than uncool. It was Soviet.
Now it wants to compete with the iPhone and Blackberry? Not a chance. Dell lacks the DNA. The company has always been a low-cost aggregator of others' technologies. It ha never demonstrated a penchant for design or technology innovation, both of which are key attributes of both Research in Motion and Apple. In this club, Dell can't compete.
Like Microsoft, Dell needs to look in the mirror and learn how to work with what's there, rather than veering off into foreign markets in which it has no savvy and no experience. Few are going to relish hearing, "Dude, you're getting a Dell smartphone!"