Dell shifting focus to work-and-play tablets, smartphones

The company will target new devices at audiences that want them for both business and personal use

After achieving "moderate success" selling smartphones and tablets to consumers, Dell will shift its focus to devices that straddle both work and play, a company executive said this week.

Future tablets and smartphones from Dell will be aimed at an audience that wants them for both business and personal use, said Steve Lalla, Dell's vice president and general manager of mobility products and solutions, at the Dell World conference in Austin, Texas.

"We spent the first few years going after a pure consumer play. We had moderate success but we really wanted to align our strategy to our core business proposition," Lalla said.

Dell will release a new smartphone or tablet later this year and further devices next year, Lalla said, declining to provide details.

Dell's consumer business has taken a back seat lately as the company builds up a product portfolio to make it more successful in data centers. Dell has released Streak tablets with different screen sizes that run Google's Android OS, and Venue smartphones that use both Android and Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating systems.

In August Dell discontinued the Streak 5 after poor sales, and the other products have not fared a lot better. It is building alliances with wireless carriers and other partners to make its future devices successful.

"I think it's on this journey from this kind of a standalone [device], let's get it started, let's get a feel for what matters to whom, and now we're taking it to the next level," Lalla said.

Some of the features built into its future mobile devices will likely include access to corporate cloud applications, easy management and better security.

Lalla rejected rumors that Dell had stopped support for Windows Phone 7. Earlier this month, rumors emerged that Dell would not back Windows Phone 7 for future smartphones, but Lalla said the company maintains an open approach with operating systems, and will build phones depending on consumer needs.

Dell executives also said that the company plans to release new devices based on Google's Android and Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 operating systems. Android has been successful on smartphones but less so on tablets, and there is a lot of excitement around Windows 8, according to Steve Felice, president of the consumer, small and medium business at Dell, during a question and answer session with press and analysts.

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