Dell’s plan in Japan involves buying preset airtime from NTTDoCoMo and bundling it with purchase of Dell notebooks that are preconfigured with an appropriate modem. Users can then add more time (or megabytes?) if they need it. If this works in Japan, it’s something Dell may experiment with elsewhere, but it raises the question of whether or not device makers should get into the MVNO game.
This isn't all that crazy — Amazon uses Sprint for its Kindle e-reader. And Apple reportedly thought about becoming an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) for the iPhone, before AT&T picked it up. And we'll speculate one further: If U.S. carriers did in fact turn down Dell's latest smartphone offerings (or not, depending on who you ask), Dell buying its own airtime and releasing the phones itself could be a possibility. But we're not holding our breath for that one.