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PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil - The Dell Mini 3iX hit the stores of mobile communications provider Claro, marking the worldwide debut of the computer manufacturer in the cell phone industry.
Brazil and China were the only countries chosen by the company for the product’s launch.
With 170 million mobile handsets in use, according to the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel), Brazil remains eager for the industry’s innovations.
Traditionally, Dell would proceed by starting with a launch in the United States and then expanding the availability of its product worldwide.
The launch of the Mini 3iX indicates a new trend.
"This is the first Dell initiative that looks first to the world and not to the United States,” says Fabio Lemos, marketing director for Dell Latin America. “[With this product] we chose to be global from the outset.”
Lemos explained that Brazil and China were chosen as launch sites because of the enormous growth potential of the two markets. Even with the global crisis that hit Dell’s American parent company, the manufacturer has not stopped growing in these countries.
"The performance in Latin America helped balance out this scenario [of falling trade],” Lemos says. “In Brazil alone, we launched 15 new models of computers in 2009.”
In recent years, typical connectivity companies, such as Nokia and Research In Motion (RIM), maker of the BlackBerry, have been betting on more technologically advanced solutions and have expanded their market in Brazil.
Meanwhile, the experiences of companies that did the opposite, such as Palm and HP - the latter with the iPAQ line - were not as successful, according to Júlio Püschel, a senior analyst at the Yankee Group.
For Püschel, the reason for the failure was because Palm and HP each launched a product that was more of a creation of the telecommunications industry than of the information technology (IT) industry.
"The road ahead for engineering companies moving toward mobility is more arid,” Püschel says. “Dell, however, arrived in a more mature way, having followed the difficulties of competitors. Moreover, [it’s] betting on the Android operating system that’s brought Dell very close to Google, a company that knows the world of the Internet like few others.”
One example that Dell may be mirroring Apple – also a North American company – is it’s following in the footsteps of Apple, which established itself as a manufacturer of computers and notebooks, yet managed to still become successful with the iPhone.
The Mini 3iX handsets found at Claro shops are manufactured in Dell's plants in Asia.
From a factory in Hortolândia, São Paulo, Dell has serviced the Latin American segments for computer servers, personal computers and notebooks. It is expected that in the coming years it will do the same for cell phones.
The Mini 3iX, Dell's goal is to go beyond the traditional range of smartphones for business executives. The company wants to reach a larger demographic of consumers with its device, which features a touch screen, a 3 megapixel camera and the capability to play digital music and video.
Dell will monitor market behavior before deciding whether to expand the availability of its products and introduce newer models. Right now, Brazil is the only country to sell the Dell handset with 3G technology.
The manufacturer has signed an exclusive partnership with Claro, which is owned by the Mexico-based America Movil and has about 41 million customers in Brazil. The cost of the Mini 3iX depends on which monthly usage plan a customer chooses.
"We have the highest possible expectations,” says Bernardo Winik, Claro's operations and consumer development director. “Both Dell and Claro have the culture of innovation in their DNA.”