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 appears 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.