Mobile World Congress: AT&T Confirms Dell SmartphoneOr Not

Call it a prime example of the viral nature of news on the Internet: Most tech publications picked up the story this week that PC-maker Dell Computer is working on a smartphone. And that assessment was based on the seeming confirmation at Mobile World Congress by AT&T Inc.’s mobility chief Ralph de la Vega that this was the case. “”Dell has announced they’re entering the smartphone market,” was the exact quote, made during his keynote address.

So dude, you’re getting a Dell…smartphone! Well, not quite.

Dell for its part has been completely silent, not commenting on the rumors swirling around that it will indeed try to break into the handset market. It certainly has made no such announcement, at the very least.

And an AT&T spokesperson later said that de la Vega was simply using Dell as a hypothetical example of new entrants getting into the smartphone category.

Did de la Vega let slip something too early and had to backtrack? Or was it really just a case of unfortunate verbiage? We shall see. This much we know: traditional desktop computing is losing ground to laptops as broadband mobility becomes more mainstream, and laptops are suffering from a recession-fueled shift to the more affordable netbooks, mobile Internet devices and smartphones. The mainstream PC makers, then, need a plan B. But meanwhile companies like Garmin, known for its GPS technology, and Asustek, which has helped pioneer the netbooks category, have announced their own jump into handsets this week, so it would make sense if others feel that the pressure’s on to claim part of the market while they still can.

Or maybe Dell is not now, and never was, contemplating getting into the phone biz.

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