Dell Streak: A $299, 5-inch phone?July 27, 2010: 4:16 PM ET
The Dell Streak hits the US market this week with the biggest screen yet in a smartphone.
Both the Sprint EVO, made by HTC and the Verizon Droid X made by Motorola (MOT) carry gargantuan 4.3 inch displays which make them about the biggest phones on the market. But as of this week, they won't even be the biggest Android phones you can buy. Dell (DELL) will soon release its Streak here in the US and with it will blur the definition of smartphone and tablet.
The landscape would appear to be pretty ripe for Dell's new device, at first glance. The 4.3-inch screened Droid X and EVO have been incredibly successful. The EVO launch was Sprint's biggest ever and it bested its previous two best sellers, combined. We don't have any numbers on the Droid X yet, but all indications were that the launch was a successful one for Verizon (VZ). Shortages are still being reported and as per usual, activations servers could barely keep up with the launch day sales.
So does bigger equal more sales? Not this time...
Although it hasn't even been officially confirmed what network the Streak will be on in the US, it appears that AT&T (T) is the most likely candidate. Besides being the only 3G network that supports the hardware version of the Streak that O2 is carrying in Europe, AT&T also plans to carry another Dell device, the Aero soon...maybe. And this video that Dell released today all but guarantees a release on AT&T:
While people have different opinions about AT&T's network, one obvious advantage is its compatibility with carriers overseas, which brings a lot of international businesses on board. But there is also the less than stellar reputation AT&T has with iPhone users.
If the Streak does wind up on AT&T, it will be competing against a very capable Android 4-inch screened Samsung Captivate running version 2.1 of the OS, and of course the much tinier but mighty HTC Aria (also running 2.1). The Captivate has the same amount of pixels as the much larger Dell Streak, but is a lot smaller, by over 3 ounces (4.5 ounces vs. 7.76)! The Captivate is also $199 ($89 at Amazon) vs. Dell's $299 price tag (and $549 w/o contract). Prices will likely plummet right after launch.
Also, AT&T, with the wild success of the iPhone, hasn't gone out of its way marketing Android devices, like Verizon and now Sprint (S) have for instance. In fact, a few days from launch, you can't even find mention of the Streak on AT&T's site.
The biggest ding against the Streak, however is that Dell somehow has it only running on Android 1.6, according to a blog post today on the matter. Inconceivable! That simply won't fly for people who have been using Android 2.1 for months and months and are impatiently waiting for a 2.2 update. Dell promises an update to 2.2 later this year but seeing as they are still on 1.6, we aren't dealing with an 'ahead of the curve operation' here.
So, will the 5-inch screen be enough wow factor to lure potential customers to AT&T to buy a Dell Streak? Perhaps, but I don't think it will see anywhere near the kind of success that the Android 2.1-carrying EVO and Droid X have seen.