News Analysis: There's a reason that many large companies continue to cling to their obsolete Windows Mobile 6.5 devices, and that may be important to the success of Windows Phone 7.
Windows Phone 7, which launched on GSM networks in the U.S.
and elsewhere on November 8, is raising questions as to its intended market. On
the surface, it appears to be a consumer device, what with its "Hub"
orientation and focus on social networking and movie-friendly design. But there
to be some depth to Phone 7 that goes beyond just being a game machine,
movie player and social-networking device.
One indication that there's an enterprise-capable phone
hiding under all of that is Dell's
announcement that it would dump its corporate BlackBerrys and, instead, begin
using Dell's own Venue Pro. This device uses highly durable glass for its
screen; it has a slide-out keyboard similar to that of the BlackBerry Torch;
and it runs on T-Mobile's HSPA+ network. The device isn't available directly
from T-Mobile, which is offering the HTC HD7
Windows Phone 7. However, Dell is promoting the phone on its Web site, with the note that
it's coming soon.
The announcement by Dell is significant in several ways.
The first is that Dell wouldn't make this device its corporate platform of
choice if it didn't support the level of security and software integration that
is required for the enterprise. But despite the veneer of social networking,
it's a Windows phone, and earlier versions have been the BlackBerry alternative
for years. In fact, enterprises have clung to their older Windows Mobile phones
long after they became obsolete because they support security features and
applications that those companies need.
It's reasonably safe to assume (although I haven't
actually tested it) that the new version of Windows for mobile devices will
retain those capabilities. Couple that with the Dell phone's use of T-Mobile's
data network-which is both faster and more reliable than AT&T's network-and
and you've got a pretty good platform. While T-Mobile's network isn't as
widespread as AT&T's, at least it works when you get access to it.
Of course, Dell likely dumped its BlackBerrys in favor of
its own phone for reasons that go beyond Windows. After all, if you plan to
sell a device
into the enterprise, what better proof do you have that it works than using
it yourself? What's more, Dell has long
had a practice of using its own products where it can, even when it means
dumping products from other companies to do so.
Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.
He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.