AT&T to have first Dell Android phone exclusively

LAS VEGAS - Dell Inc. will launch an Android smartphone later this year and AT&T will carry it exclusively, officials of both companies announced today at the 2010 AT&T Developer Summit.

AT&T will also sell two other Android smartphones exclusively later this year, one from Motorola Inc. that uses the Motoblur social networking service, and the other from HTC.

The exclusive deals were announced even as AT&T continues as the sole U.S. carrier of the iPhone. It is widely believed that the exclusive deal will expire later this year and that AT&T is positioning its smart phone line to take up the slack should Apple Inc. extend iPhone sales to Verizon Wireless or another carrier.

AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega announced the new exclusive deals, but didn't discuss any developments with the iPhone in his keynote remarks and wasn't available for questions. The AT&T summit is running in conjunction with the International 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Dell, in a press release, called the Android phone for AT&T one in its Mini 3 lineup. Dell already has smartphone deals for Mini 3 phones with mobile operators outside the U.S., including China Mobile and Claro in Brazil. Both of those deals were announced in November .

Dell was rumored to be entering the mobile phone business for years after its decision in 2007 to drop the Axim line of personal digital assistants running on Windows.

Ron Garrigues, president of Dell Communication Solutions, said the Dell smartphone for AT&T will benefit from the array of applications being built by developers at the AT&T summit. "We're absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to use these apps to make these [phones] absolutely take off," he said.

De la Vega also made a number of announcements that benefit developers, including reducing the time it takes to review an application before it's accepted for use by AT&T.

AT&T will also begin to offer all the major application stores on AT&T devices, expanding the market reach for independent developers seeking to bring applications to a broader audience, de la Vega said. AT&T already provides access to to Apple's App Store, Nokia's Ovi and Microsoft 's Windows Marketplace, but will expand the list to include the Android Market and Palm Catalog, he said.

AT&T will also launch an "Apps for All" initiative, which includes an agreement with Qualcomm Inc. to standardize apps development through AT&T's adoption of the Brew mobile platform, de la Vega said. Brew will become the primary operating system for what AT&T calls quick messaging devices , which make up about one-third of AT&T sales to customers under contract but does not include higher-end smartphones. The quick messaging devices have Internet browsers and are focused on texting with a Qwerty keyboard, de la Vega said. The devices have not historically had access to the multitude of apps now available to smartphone users.

Opening apps development for QMD's will add millions of customers eager to buy new apps, he said.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smart phones and other handhelds and wireless networking for Computerworld . Follow Matt on Twitter @matthamblen , send e-mail at or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed .

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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