Dell Venue Pro, with Windows Phone 7, to Debut at Holidays

Dell's Venue Pro, its newest Windows Phone 7 smartphone, will debut in the U.S. this holiday season. Dell remains tight-lipped about an exact price or release date.

Dell's Venue Pro, its newest entry in the smartphone market, looks a lot like the BlackBerry Torch 9800. It features a 4.1-inch capacitive touch screen and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The Gorilla Glass makes the screen highly scratch-resistant, and Dell's engineers have ever-so-slightly curved the device's front-supposedly to give it a more elegant feel.

The smartphone will run Windows Phone 7, on T-Mobile's network. And just as Research In Motion is aiming the Torch 9800 at the broadest possible audience, Dell evidently intends the Venue Pro for both consumers and businesspeople.

"We see the Venue Pro for everyday people with a diverse range of full and busy lives," Bill Gorden, a Dell spokesperson, wrote in an Oct. 11 posting on the corporate Direct2Dell blog. "They need to stay connected, be productive and keep in touch with colleagues, friends and families. Dell designed the Venue Pro to be a multi-purpose always-connected device to help people be more efficient, always connected and entertained."

T-Mobile will host the smartphone "in the U.S. this holiday season," Gorden added, without clarifying pricing or exact availability.

Dell's other recent entries in the mobility space include the 4-inch Streak, which launched in the United States Aug. 13. That tablet runs Google's Android 1.6 operating system, features front- and rear-facing cameras, and is priced at either $549.99 unlocked or $299 with a two-year AT&T contract. In late September, rumors about a 7-inch Streak made their way around the Web, after Dell CEO Michael Dell showed off a prototype device at Oracle OpenWorld.

"Michael made the point that devices are changing and evolving rapidly to keep up with the way users want to get their data-anytime, anywhere," read a Sept. 22 posting on Direct2Dell, referring to the OpenWorld appearance.

Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7, its latest attempt to regain market share in smartphones, with a New York City event Oct. 11. The smartphone platform will debut in the United States on nine smartphones, from manufacturers such as Dell, LG Electronics and Samsung. GSM-based networks, notably AT&T and T-Mobile, will be the first to offer the devices, which will then migrate to CDMA-based networks such as Verizon in 2011.

As the premiere U.S. carrier, AT&T will introduce three Windows Phone 7 devices in the November-December timeframe: the LG Quantum, the HTC Surround and the Samsung Focus. All three will be priced at $199, a model that other manufacturers and carriers could follow.

"I've been looking forward to this day for some time," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told media and analysts gathered for the New York City event. "We focused in on the way real people really want to use their phones when they're on the go. We want you to get in, out and back to life."

More to the point, Microsoft wants users who would ordinarily gravitate toward the Apple iPhone or Google Android-whose fierce competitive pushes have eaten away at Microsoft's mobile market share over the past several quarters-to consider a Windows Phone 7 device instead.