Dell Continues Linux Android Mobile Device Streak

For the longest time, Dell was considered a loyal Wintel shop, selling only Windows machines on Intel hardware.

Times change. Now the company offers systems with AMD processors and sells systems with Linux pre-installed, and the company is also rapidly expanding its offerings in the ARM/Android space as well. It already has several smartphones in development, and this week unveiled a mini-tablet, called the Streak.

Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) introduced the Streak in England, where it will launch first before coming to the U.S. It will likely be sold through a carrier partner, as Dell is launching with O2, a UK mobile carrier. The company also released a YouTube video with a discussion with one of the Streak's group managers.

Streak will ship in early June in England, with pricing to be announced at launch time. It will come to the U.S. later this summer.

The Dell Streak has a 5-inch screen measured diagonally, making it larger than most smartphones but smaller than any of the major tablet designs to date, including the 9.7-inch Apple iPad. It comes with a microphone and speaker, just like a phone, plus Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 3G support.

The Android software Dell is using will sport some Dell custom user interface enhancements. Android 2.2 and Flash 10.1 support will come later this year through over-the-air updates. Inside, it has a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, based on the ARM processor. It comes with a five megapixel autofocus camera and supports easy upload of pictures and videos to YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook

The device has 2GB of internal storage plus a Micro SD slot for up to 32GB more storage. It has fully integrated Google Maps with turn-by-turn navigation, street and satellite views, integration with social media apps like Twitter and Facebook and a multitouch display.

"The Dell Streak hits the sweet spot between traditional smartphones and larger-screen tablets," said Ron Garriques, president of Dell Communication Solutions Group, in a statement. "Its unique size provides people new ways to enjoy, connect, and navigate their lives."

But the Streak's in-between form factor will be a challenging sale for Dell, said analyst Jack Gold, president of J.Gold Associates. It will come down to Dell's choice of target markets. "If you are trying to compete with tablets, that won't work. If you are targeting this at an emerging market, where there aren't a lot of PCs installed, then it might be a good strategy," he told InternetNews.com.

"[Emerging markets] buy phones, increasingly smartphones. If for a few bucks more they get a Web-enabled device and it's a better experience, than that works. In emerging markets, you probably won't have a laptop but you want something larger than a two or three inch screen like a phone. This might be attractive to a class of users," he added.

However, the size may prove a problem for some people because it's too big to fit in a pocket. "I'm not convinced it's the right form factor for the majority of people. I think they are trying to upsize and go a little bigger, because people do complain about the small screen size [of smartphones], but they will also complain about the additional weight and size" of the Streak," Gold added.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Android, Dell, tablet, mobile computing, Streak