AT&T's New Mobile Devices: Pre, Pixi, Dell Aero
On the heels of super-disappointing earnings last week, Palm continues to push its new mobile device line up as today AT&T added the Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus to its inventory of smartphones. In addition to the new webOS Palm handhelds, AT&T, which retains the role of exclusive iPhone carrier, also today said it will "soon unveil" Dell's first Android-powered smartphone, the Dell Aero. The original Pre and Pixi launched last year on Sprint, with their respective Plus versions coming out on Verizon in January, under the leadership of Palm CEO Jon Rubenstein, former Apple iPod guru, who is desperately trying to shepherd Palm back into profitability from the brink of bankruptcy. Though Palm's new devices running webOS have impressed the industry, the company had the misfortune of an exclusive debut on the nation's No. 3 carrier, Sprint, which itself was in the middle of a relaunch to stem its customer exodus. Then, when Palm's smartphones finally came to Verizon, the Motorola Droid, the carrier's first Android handheld, overshadowed Palm as the No. 1 carrier rolled out a big-budget marketing campaign to take on the Apple iPhone. Still, during Palm's grim earnings call, Rubenstein told investors last week the company is re-doubling efforts to compete in the lucrative smartphone market.
Meanwhile, AT&T appears to be trying to diversify its portfolio as the sun may be setting on its exclusive deal with Apple for the iPhone. Despite perpetual speculation about when it will lose its position as sole iPhone carrier, Apple has remained faithful and picked the No. 2 carrier for its 3G iPad model. Still, the Apple-AT&T love-fest can't last forever, and to that end, it appears AT&T is wise to begin expanding its inventory with Android handsets such as the Motorola Backflip and, coming soon, the Dell Aero. Right now details of the Aero are sparse, as AT&T said only that it will feature a customized user interface designed jointly with Dell. Dell for its part is part of the growing trend of hardware makers entering the smartphone market, which continues to perform well with impressive growth in handset sales and mobile applications.