Rumor: Dell to reveal Android-based handset next month?

The speculation regarding Dell building a new handset starts up again.

Dell has long been rumored to be working on a handset, and the latest speculation is that Google will be part of those plans.

MarketingWeekreported Wednesday that the two companies are teaming up on a handset based on Google's Android mobile platform, and the official announcement will come at next month's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The report cites "senior industry sources," but notes that Google insiders are denying any such announcement is imminent.

Dell isn't talking either. Company spokesman David Frink told CNET that the Marketing Week report is "speculative" and that the company has "no comment at all."

While rumors about a possible Dell handheld have been swirling since the hiring of Ron Garriques from Motorola a year ago, Google's name hadn't yet been thrown into the mix. Dell and Google do have an established relationship through the Google Toolbar that's available on Dell PCs, notes industry analyst Roger Kay. "Google has already done the work on Android. A more formal partnership would certainly be easy enough to establish," he said. Considering that, Kay says he judges the likelihood of a coming Google/Dell announcement to be "fairly high."

Dell hasn't done anything in the red-hot handheld market since it killed its Axim line of PDAs last April, and its recent moves toward a flashy design of its PCs and putting its products in retail outlets show it wants to court consumers. A nicely designed handset with multimedia functionality would do more to achieve that goal and show what kind of technology the company has up its sleeve.

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