Dell's much rumoured re-entry into the smartphone market could take place as early as next month, analysts are suggesting.

It's been an off and on rumour for a couple of years now - since Dell hired a top Motorola exec in 2007 - but Shaw Wu an analyst with Kaufman Bros, thinks that it might finally bear fruit at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona mid-Feb 2009.

"The exact timing of Dell's launch is not clear but our sources indicate it is closer to reality than before", said Wu in a research note to clients.

"We believe it is likely inevitable that Dell enter the cellphone space given the cannibalization of PCs by smartphones and highly functional mobile devices".

Ryan Reith, an analyst with IDC, concurs: "It wouldn't surprise me to see them do this. This is such an enticing space that if you do it correctly you can be in a huge growth market".

Dell would be entering a highly competitive market. As well as existing high-end smartphones such as the Sony Ericsson's Xperia X1, T-Mobile's G1, the BlackBerry Storm and the iPhone, 2009 will see the launch of Nokia N97 and the Palm Pre.