Dell Launching Android Play in China, Brazil

Dell today officially unveiled plans to begin selling smartphones, offering details of partnerships with two overseas carriers.

The PC giant has entered into joint ventures with China Mobile and America Movil in Brazil to offer the Dell Mini3 Android-powered smartphone.

“Our entry into the smart phone category is a logical extension of Dell’s consumer product evolution over the past two years,” Ron Garriques, president of Dell’s (NASDAQ: DELL) global consumer group, said in a statement. “We are developing smaller and smarter mobile products that enable our customers to take their Internet experience out of the home and do the things they want to do whenever and wherever they want.”

China Mobile is the world’s largest telecommunications company, with 500 million subscribers. Claro, part of the America Movil network, serves 42 million customers in Brazil, according to Dell.

“This signals an important milestone in the long-term partnership between China Mobile and Dell,” a China Mobile spokesperson said in a statement. “We are excited for Dell to be among the first manufacturers to introduce new technology based on the OPhone platform,” the spokesperson said, referring to China Mobile’s version of the Android operating system.

Dell said details of the Android-powered smartphones will be announced “on a partner-by-partner basis” as the devices hit store shelves, with expected arrival times of later this month in China, and by the end of December for Brazil.

The news comes as hardware vendors are looking to the healthy smartphone sector and overseas expansion to offset slumping domestic computer sales.

Dell is also expected to introduce an Android handset stateside early next year, possibly on AT&T, the only major U.S. carrier yet to offer handsets on Google’s open source mobile platform.

Apple just began selling versions of its iPhone in China through China Unicom, the country’s second-largest carrier behind China Mobile. While the opportunity exists for a huge jump in sales due to China Unicom’s subscriber base, analysts have said the steep price of the iPhone (the high-end model costs about $1,000 there) and the absence of Wi-Fi support, which was stripped to comply with government regulations, may hamper sales.

There are about 720 million mobile phone users in China, while the combined subscriber base of the top four U.S. wireless networks is about 250 million.

Meanwhile, Acer is also planning to launch an Android-powered handset, Liquid, though pricing, carrier and launch details have yet to be disclosed.

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