Dell Dumps BlackBerry: Not Quite as Dire as It Sounds

Includes: BBRY, DELL
by: Larry Dignan

Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) said it will dump 25,000 BlackBerry devices as it moves to compete more with Research in Motion (RIMM). The move is more about salesmanship than some indicator that RIM is on the ropes.

The Wall Street Journal has a meaty interview with Dell CFO Brian Gladden, who talks about how the company is kicking RIM out and saving some dough on server costs. Dell will take these services to its customers.

Is this yet another death of RIM story? Hardly. Let’s call this what it is: Dell is eating its own dog food to sell you something. Dell will issue its own employees the Dell Venue Pro in return for their BlackBerry devices. The Dell Venue Pro runs on Windows Phone 7. Similar trade-ins will be available for Dell Android devices. Dell is pushing mobile devices—such as the Streak—as part of its IT stack.

I put this move in the same bucket as Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) going Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) free. HP uses its own 3Com (COMS) networking gear and touts that fact. Why? HP wants you to use its 3Com gear over Cisco. HP’s move isn’t an indictment of Cisco and may not persuade one customer to do the same.

It’s the same story with Dell. Dell’s message: If we can give employees the Venue Pro you can too. However, there’s a big difference here: Consumerization is driving enterprise device adoption. Folks are bringing in their Apple iPhone and Android devices. They aren’t bringing in Dell smartphones.

Bottom line: While it’s tempting to do yet another death of RIM story, Dell’s move is more about salesmanship than some broad message about the fate of the BlackBerry. RIM has some real challenges with the iPhone and Android devices and Microsoft on the server side, but it remains to be seen if Dell becomes a headache.

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