The vendor announced the player in the US only with a banner on its website, and stated that it is getting the word out through employees and customer focus groups. Dell has also launched a special multimedia site targeting young buyers.
The announcement was so low-key that a UK spokeswoman was unaware of the launch. "We don't get US announcements but I wouldn't be surprised if it were available here soon," she said.
Priced at around £60, the DJ Ditty is about the size of a stick of chewing gum and is half an inch thick. It holds up to 220 songs on 512Mb of storage, and includes an FM tuner and a 1in screen for managing playlists.
Dell said that this is the first time the firm had used word of mouth to launch a product, insisting that it is ideal for such a form of marketing.
Mark Mulligan, research director at Jupiter Research, said: "To go against Apple, Dell needs a viral campaign that reaches the youth market looking for a cheap device. You need that if you are edging into a market defined by Apple.
"But Apple has been very successful at creating demand for its new iPod Nano in what is usually a quiet sales period. So they have defined the sector rather like Hoover defined vacuum cleaners.
"Apple has stuck to its guns on quality and managed to broaden its range. Dell cannot compete against that but, if players for Windows Media Audio become a strong sector, it has a good chance of being a strong player."
Dell's campaign will be a major achievement if it has a significant impact on Apple, which currently accounts for 75 per cent of the worldwide market with 22 million iPods sold.
Dell also introduced two new printers, the Photo All-In-One 924 and 944, which have improved photo-printing capabilities, designs and wireless options.
The 924 prints at up to 20 pages a minute, while the 944 model prints at 21 pages per minute and has a 2.4in screen for stand-alone photo printing.
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