Dell switches employees from BlackBerry to Windows Phone

Dell is switching 25,000 of its employees from Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry devices to its own smartphones, a move which speaks as much to the pressure RIM is feeling in the enterprise market as it does to Dell's own smartphone ambitions. 

The company said that starting next week it will switch the employees--a quarter of its global workforce--to the Dell Venue Pro, which runs on Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform and is being launched by T-Mobile USA. Dell CFO Brian Gladden told the Wall Street Journal in an interview that the switch will save the company around 25 percent in mobile communication costs primarily because it eliminates the need for BlackBerry servers.

However, the switch is also a not-so-subtle dig at RIM, which once dominated the enterprise market, but has since come under increasing competition from Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and smartphones running Google's Android platform. Dell eventually plans to offer its own Android phones for employees to use.  And, according to a report released in early August by Nielsen, just 42 percent of current BlackBerry users planned to stick with the device for their next phone, while 29 percent said they will switch to an iPhone and 21 percent will move to Android.

"Clearly in this decision we are competing with RIM, because we're kicking them out," he said.

RIM said it is unlikely that Dell will save money on the switch. "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, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Dell has been trying to crack into the smartphone market, but has found little success so far. Meanwhile, RIM, despite the pressure it is feeling from competitors, is still a powerhouse in the enterprise market. The company was the world's fifth-largest handset maker by volume in the third quarter, shipping 12.1 million units.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)
- see this Reuters article
- see this ZDNet article

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