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Dell CEO hints at a smartphone...again

Michael Dell tells an audience in Tokyo it's "not unreasonable" to expect a phone and perhaps other smaller, connected devices from his company in the future.

As he has been doing in public speeches and interviews in the last year, Michael Dell has again stirred up speculation about what his company has planned in the handheld market.

In a speech he gave in Tokyo Tuesday, the chief executive of Dell was slightly more specific than he has been in the past on this topic.

"For the last three years, we have integrated 3G radios into our notebooks," said Dell. "We already have agreements with many mobile carriers around Netbook devices, so it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect that we would have smaller mobile Internet devices or smartphones in the future."

The Dellsmartphone rumors have swirledsince former Motorola executive Ron Garriques was hired. Michael Dell has periodically made reference to "smaller- and smaller-screen devices" that his company was working on, but until now he hadn't spoken about a Dell-branded mobile Internet device, or MID.

Dell is in the process of expanding its lineup of products while at the same time attempting to tweak consumers' expectations of the company that made its name selling discount PCs direct. A smartphone, essentially a handheld computer, appears to fit in with Dell's plan to diversifyits lineup of consumer PCs.