Recently, palmOne made headlines by admitting it has investigated the possibility of using Windows Mobile for Pocket PCs on some of its products.
Now, a new wrinkle has emerged on this story. According to rumor, palmOne is going to develop a Windows Mobile version of the Treo that will be sold by Dell.
This rumor is lacking in any details, such as which version of Windows Mobile this device will suposedly run, the one for cellular-wireless handhelds or the one for smartphones.
While this is just a rumor at this point, such a deal wouldn't be completely out of character for either company.
palmOne has made it clear that it feels its corporate destiny lies with smartphones, not traditional handhelds. Adding a Windows Mobile smartphone to its repertoire could only increase its sales, but taking such a project on by itself would be a big risk for such a small company. If it could get Dell, with its deep pockets, to pay the lion's share of the development cost, palmOne's financial risk would be greatly decreased.
This deal would also solve a potential problem for palmOne. If it made a Windows Mobile Treo of its own, it would be offering two versions of the same device with very different operating systems. This could easily lead to its customers becoming confused. However, Dell's smartphone surely wouldn't be called a Treo; most likely it would be part of the company's Axim line. This would mean that the potential for customer confusion is minimized.
In addition, palmOne has done somewhat similar deals in the past. IBM used to sell handhelds that Palm Inc. (the previous incarnation of palmOne) had manufactured and put the IBM logo on. The company has also said in the past that it is willing to license its smartphone expertise to other companies.
This would be a fairly typical arrangement for Dell. It doesn't develop any of its own handhelds. For example, its recently released Axim X50 series was designed by High Tech Computer of Taiwan.
In the same way, it is almost certain to hire another company to make its first smartphone, and palmOne is a logical choice, as its Treo 600 has been a runaway success.
But there is some question about whether Dell will make a smartphone at all. It is successful in the PC market because of its direct sales model. This isn't possible in the smartphone arena as hardware makers must work through wireless service providers.
On the other hand, the market for smartphones is starting to take off, and Dell didn't get where it is today by ignoring potentially profitable markets.
Thanks to engadget for the tip.