Dell Ditches 25,000 BlackBerrys

Nice knowing you, BlackBerry. Dell plans to replace 25,000 employee's BlackBerrys with its own soon-to-be-released Dell Venue Pro phones from T-Mobile running Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 software.

According to a report in the The Wall Street Journal, Dell also plans to start marketing a service to clients later this month designed to help them make a similar switch.

"Clearly, in this decision we are competing with RIM, because we're kicking them out," Dell's CFO Brian Gladden told the Journal.

But RIM (NASDAQ: RIMM) was quick to dispute claims Dell made that the move to Venue Pro will save the company about 25 percent in mobile communication costs, primarily by eliminating the need for BlackBerry servers. In addition to Windows Phone 7, Dell eventually plans to bring out devices based on Google's Android software.

"We find it highly unlikely that they will actually save any money with this move and far more likely they were looking for a little free publicity," Mark Guibert, RIM's senior vice president of corporate marketing, said in a statement.

"Consider all the hard and soft costs of purchasing, deploying and supporting new devices with new software inside a company. Plus consider the fact that BlackBerry smartphones are far more efficient with respect to data usage, which means that their monthly service charges will also likely increase.

"In any case, anyone concerned about software costs can download BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express for free," he continued. "In fact, in addition to supporting Microsoft Exchange, RIM is introducing a version for IBM Lotus Domino customers on Friday."

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that all 89,000 of its employees would be receiving a new Windows Phone 7 device, which are set to go on sale next week.

RIM's BlackBerry, long a staple of corporate road warriors, has seen its market share slip in the face of growing competition from Apple's iPhone and Android devices.

For the three months ending in September, comScore reported that RIM still leads smartphone owners in the U.S. at 37.3 percent, but that was down 2.8 percent from the end of June. Meanwhile, Android-based devices rose 6.5 percent to 21.4 percent of the overall market.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.        


Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7, RIM, Dell Venue Pro