Engineers at Dell Inc. have been developing a pocket-sized device for tapping into the Internet, said people familiar with the company's plans.

The gadget would run on Google Inc.'s Android software, these people said. Two people who saw early prototypes described the device as slightly larger than Apple Inc.'s iPod Touch, which is similar to the iPhone but does not have cellphone capabilities.

Another person who was briefed on the company's plans said Dell may begin selling the device later this year, though this person said the plan could be delayed or scrapped entirely.

The development effort is one of the first experiments by a big-name PC maker in a nascent category of products known as mobile Internet devices, or MIDs,which are designed to fill a perceived gap between mobile phones and laptop computers.

A Dell spokesman declined to comment on any plans for the product category.

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