Dell dropping Windows Phone 7 devices from its roadmap? (update: Dell responds, is definitely still in the game)

Now we don't have much more to go on here than some analyst chatter and a lengthy article from TechCrunch, but if you believe what you read, a major player has just dropped Windows Phone 7 devices from its roadmap. And that player is Dell. According to Jonathan Goldberg, an telecom analyst at Deutsche Bank, the only remaining partners currently working on Windows Phone 7 handsets are HTC, Samsung, and LG. If this is true (and that's a big if), that means that the seriously awesome looking Dell Lightning that we spied in leaks recently will never see the light of day -- as a WP7 device, at least.

We already knew that HP was out of the game (instead focusing on webOS phones), but the casual suggestion that Dell has made for the door here is somewhat suspect. The company itself hasn't made any statements (we've reached out but have yet to hear back), and while Dell has certainly concentrated a lot of effort on Android devices recently, its partnership with Microsoft is long-standing (despite dabbling in the world of open source). If the story turns out to be true, it could spell mixed (if not outright bad) tidings for the Windows Phone 7 launch, which Goldberg alleges may cost Microsoft upwards of half a billion dollars -- no small fee. Losing two of the biggest computer-makers in the world can't feel very good when you're trying to fight your way back to relevancy, but at least on the bright side, neither HP nor Dell have a track record of making anything other than heroically mediocre handsets. Take this all with a grain of salt right now, however, as the author of the TechCrunch article provides no source for the statements from Goldberg, and... well, he's an analyst, and they're prone to making up all kinds of crazy things. We're investigating, and will let you know as soon as we have more info.

Update: We've been pinged back by Dell's Matt Parretta, and he was 100 percent clear that Dell was most certainly still part of the Windows Phone 7 game. In the company's words:

Any reports, or speculation, that report Dell will not support Windows Phone 7 are false... Microsoft announced Dell as a supporting partner at this year's Mobile World Congress and nothing's changed. We are excited to collaborate with Microsoft on Windows Phone 7, and are looking forward to bringing customers amazing mobile experiences.

Furthermore, the analyst in question here (Jonathan Goldberg) has also reached out to us to clarify his statements, saying that he believes Dell is still a partner on Windows Phone 7, just not a launch partner. Dell was mum on release schedules, but one thing is clear -- they intend to follow through on this collaboration.