08:26 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman

Dell Dumps BlackBerries For Microsoft's Smartphones

Dell plans to transition 25,000 employees from BlackBerry smartphones to its own Venue Pro Windows Phone 7 smartphone. It's about time.

If you're going to make smartphones, it's a good idea to have your own employees use them. Until now, Dell has been a BlackBerry house, with 25,000 of them deployed across its workforce. With three smartphones available in the market, however, it's time Dell made the switch.

On Thursday, Dell CFO Brian Gladden said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, "Clearly in this decision we are competing with RIM, because we're kicking them out."

Dell said the transition will begin as early as next week -- once the Venue Pro officially launches in the U.S. Employees who carry company-issued BlackBerries will be given a chance to turn in their BlackBerry for the Venue Pro, which runs Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform. The new smartphone will have a voice and data plan.

Other employees -- those who don't merit company-provided smartphones -- will also be given the opportunity to get the Dell Venue Pro, though with voice service only. "We want our phones to be appealing to individuals, and people have needs that span personal and work," said Gladden.

One benefit of the move, says Dell, is that it will see a 25% savings in its mobile communications. That savings comes from ditching not only the BlackBerries, but RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise Server for email services. The WP7 platform natively supports Exchange ActiveSync for corporate email. Gladden admits that not all companies would see such significant savings, but points out that SMBs could benefit by getting rid of the BlackBerry servers.

Gladden says that the company plans to offer enterprises a way to pry BlackBerry out of their internal systems and switch to Dell's new devices and services. "I'm not sure I care as much about the devices as the services," he said. "There's a services opportunity that we think is even bigger."

So, what is Dell going to do with 25,000 BlackBerries? "We actually had a conversation last night around creating a site on eBay where we can actually sell these BlackBerry devices," Gladden said.

The Dell Venue Pro is the only vertical slider in the new crop of WP7 devices. It offers a similar screen size and resolution to the competition, but pops up to reveal a compact QWERTY keyboard underneath.

The overall fit and feel of the Dell Venue Pro is pretty good, though the form factor increases the thickness of it somewhat. The materials felt good, and the rounded edges make it feel good in the hand.

All WP7 devices have the same three buttons on the front: Back, Home and Search. Each does what it says, and mimics the buttons' behavior on Android devices. The controls on the outer edge all felt good, though they are a little bit on the small side.

As for the keyboard, the buttons were a wee bit cramped, but typing on it didn't feel bad at all. I would have preferred to see some more specialized keys, such as "www" and ".com" but it wasn't difficult to interact with the function keys or shift keys, which are key.

The display looked great. Dell didn't spell out too many details about the display's specs, but in person is dazzles.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Elite 100
InformationWeek Elite 100
Our data shows these innovators using digital technology in two key areas: providing better products and cutting costs. Almost half of them expect to introduce a new IT-led product this year, and 46% are using technology to make business processes more efficient.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Increasing IT Agility and Speed To Drive Business Growth
Learn about the steps you'll need to take to transform your IT operation and culture into an agile organization that supports business-driving initiatives.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.