Dell Venue Pro  (Source:
Dell to market mobile services to other businesses

Dell is taking dead aim at Research In Motion by making employees ditch the Blackberry maker's products in exchange for its own line of smartphones, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Initially, Dell's 25,000 employees will be offered the Windows Phone 7-powered Dell Venue Pro in exchange for their Blackberries. The company plans to support Android-based devices in the future, as well.

"Clearly in this decision we are competing with RIM, because we're kicking them out," Dell CFO Brian Gladden told WSJ. "We actually had a conversation last night around creating a site on eBay where we can actually sell these BlackBerry devices" that employees return.

The trade-in begins next week and is projected to save Dell 25 percent in mobile costs, mostly thanks to the elimination of Blackberry servers, Gladden said. Dell is in talks with T-Mobile, in hopes that the carrier will provide minutes and data in bulk each month, with any leftovers rolling over to the next month.

Dell employees who currently have work-issued Blackberries will be able to trade them in for Dell Venue Pros -- which is the WP7 twin of the Android-based "Thunder" -- with voice and data plans. Other employees will also be able to choose Dell phones, sans data.

In addition to its own employees, Dell also plans to begin offering its mobile solutions to other business clients. Setting up and managing networks has a much higher profit margin than selling companies the actual devices, so Gladden said he's open to selling non-Dell devices in the future. "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."

Though most companies won't save as much as Dell, some businesses will certainly see savings thanks to the ability to cut out Blackberry servers, which are uniquely offered by RIM.

This is just another hurdle for RIM, which has seen its fair share of problems in the smartphone market. Its latest Blackberry devices have posted weak sales because of the lack of innovation, it has fought with Middle Eastern and Asian countries over privacy issues, and it is quickly losing marketshare to the beast known as Android. With the field getting even more crowded thanks to Windows Phone 7 -- and Microsoft generally doing well with the business crowd in the past -- RIM really needs to come up with a big play before it ends up going the way of Palm.

RIM was not available for comment.

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