Dell ends smartphone sales in the U.S.

Dell has stopped selling smartphones in the U.S., as it tweaks its mobile strategy to focus more on emerging markets and higher-margin products.

Dell has nixed its last standing Venue and Venue Pro smartphones and no replacements have been announced. The smartphones had run their course, a Dell spokesman said.

“Mobility products have shorter lifecycles than laptops and desktops,” he said.

Dell will introduce more mobile products in the U.S. later this year, but the spokesman didn’t say if smartphones will be among them.

Ending the Venue sales means Dell has discontinued all its U.S. smartphone brands, after entering the market in August 2010 with the Aero smartphone and Streak 5 combined tablet/smartphone. Its Venue smartphones were offered with Google’s Android and Microsoft Windows Phone 7 operating systems. Dell discontinued the Streak 5 around a year later, and stopped selling Streak 7 late last year.

Dell continues to sell smartphones outside the U.S. It sells the Venue Pro in India, the Venue in South Korea, a Streak smartphone in Japan, and Streak smartphones and tablets in China. The company also offers Streak tablets in some other countries.

With the consumerization of IT in the enterprise, Dell is focusing more on mobile devices that can be used for both work and home. Its consumer business has taken a back seat as the company builds up its portfolio for the higher-margin enterprise and services businesses. Dell is also moving to higher-margin consumer products by discontinuing netbooks and putting more emphasis on its premium XPS line of PCs.

It’s ready to push the reset button on its tablet and smartphone business after many missteps, said Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates.

Dell wasn’t putting much force behind its mobility business and was sending mixed messages around products and operating systems, Gold said.

“If you’re not a Motorola, RIM or Apple, people won’t take you seriously,” Gold said.

Dell could focus on Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 OS for tablets and might be better off reselling third-party smartphones, Gold said. That could save development costs and give Dell more flexibility with its offerings.

But the company’s mobile strategy will continue to be important as a part of its enterprise and service offerings, Gold said.

“They are throwing their hands up and saying, ‘Let’s start again,’” Gold said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam’s email address is agam_shah@idg.com

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