Dell ditches RIM as it preps enterprise mobile push

Dell hopes to save 25 percent in mobile communication costs, primarily by eliminating BlackBerry servers.

Dell is getting ready to move its 25,000 employees from BlackBerrys to its own Windows Phone 7-based smartphone, in preparation to the launch of its own migration service, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Dell employees will be given the upcoming Venue Pro, and the move will start next week. The company will then begin marketing a service to its business clients within two weeks aimed at helping them make a similar switch, according to the Journal.

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"Dell does intend to transition employees using company-provided BlackBerrys over to Dell devices," said Jess Blackburn, a Dell spokesman, in an email to the IDG News Service.

The Venue Pro comes with a 4.1-inch display and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard.

The move will save Dell about 25 percent in mobile communication costs, primarily by eliminating the need for BlackBerry servers, Dell told the Journal.

Dell's decision to move away from RIM's smartphones to its own products doesn't come as a surprise to Leif-Olof Wallin, research vice president at Gartner.

"It would be kind of embarrassing to have your own sales staff walking around with a product from a competitor," said Wallin.

However, he isn't so sure Dell will be successful getting other companies to move from their BlackBerrys to Windows Phone 7. In general, he thinks the future for Windows Phone 7 in the enterprise looks bleak. Microsoft's new platform is very much focused on consumers, and has integration with Exchange and Office Communications Server, but not much else, he said.

An approach that is gaining momentum among enterprises is to support multiple smartphone OSes, said Wallin. Typically, companies add Apple's iPhone and Android-based smartphones, not Windows Phone 7 smartphones, to the current use of BlackBerrys, he said.

Eventually, Dell also will offer Android smartphones to its employees, according to the Journal.

(Agam Shah in New York contributed to this story.)

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