Dell Venue Pro Enterprise Phone Delayed, Some Past Christmas

Dell acknowledged that many of the customers who ordered its WP7 Venue Pro smartphone won't be receiving it in time for Christmas. Some, however, will ship Dec. 17.

Dell is the latest phone maker to stumble as it hurries to meet user demand-a happy problem, the glass-half-full folks might say, but a bummer for those hoping for a Dell Venue Pro under the Christmas tree.

Responding to media reports of shipment delays-such as Matt Miller writing at ZDNet that the posted delivery date for his Venue Pro has been pushed to Jan. 6-Lionel Menchaca blogged at Direct2Dell that while, yes, some orders won't arrive until Jan. 6-ish, Dell also has plans to begin delivering the phones Dec. 17 and throughout the following week, leading up to Christmas.

"Dell is ramping production as fast as we can," wrote Menchaca. "We're continuing to monitor our manufacturing and supplies and will make every effort to align shipments with arrival expectations. At this point, our most important focus is to deliver the right out-of-box experience so customers are happy with their purchase."

The latter line is reminiscent of Nokia's Dec. 14 statement that it is delaying shipment of its E7 smartphone "to ensure the best possible user experience." For both companies, a spotlight on shipping delays is preferable to a device with operational problems (as Nokia can likely attest), and it seems both are taking care to get things right. While the E7 was supposed to ship in December, it's now scheduled for "early 2011," with the timing expected to vary between markets.

Shipping times for the Venue Pro will also vary, said Menchaca, by the time and date that orders were placed. He added, "We expect all back orders to be delivered shortly."

Designed for business users, the Dell Venue Pro runs Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 and a 1GHz processor, comes with Office Mobile preloaded and features a 4.1-inch WVGA AMOLED capacitive touch display and a four-row QWERTY keypad. Out of the office, users can sync it to the Xbox Live. A 5-megapixel camera is also on board, along with support for email, MMS and SMS, as well as Internet Explorer Mobile, Bing Search and Maps.

New to the smartphone market, Dell recently set its sights on the enterprise phone space and announced that it will not only transition its 25,000 employees from RIM BlackBerry smartphones to Dell smartphones (the Venue Pro is a good bet), but it's setting up a business helping other companies do the same.

"Clearly, in this decision we are competing with RIM, because we're kicking them out," Dell CFO Brian Gladden said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Dell is also expected to launch a Microsoft-based tablet in early 2011. Citing unnamed sources, The New York Times reported Dec. 14 that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will likely take the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in January with a number of new tablets, including units from Dell and Samsung.

Dell currently offers a tablet running Google's Android operating system, the Streak. With an unusual 5-inch screen size, however, its reception has been muted, with early reviewers calling it too big to be a smartphone and too small for a tablet. The more common screen size is 7 inches, which Dell has in the works-though Apple CEO Steve Jobs has mocked even that size, calling it too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the iPad. (On the diagonal, the Apple iPad's display measures 9.7 inches.)

"These are among the reasons that the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA, dead on arrival," Jobs said during Apple's most recent earnings call.