It’s not April and this isn’t a joke. Dell introduced the Dell Business Phone just minutes ago.

It’s interesting news to begin with, but the fact that it comes on the same day that VMWare’s AirWatch makes its Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) and Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) announcements, at its annual user conference, makes it even more so.

Never mind the fact that Apple is expected to be unveiling its new iPhones later today. We doubt that those will have an immediate enterprise twist, especially because the IBM + Apple news around mobility in the enterprise was made last July.

Is Dell’s timing a coincidence? We think so. It’s hard to imagine why it would want to risk its vitally important news to get lost in the crowd. So what card is it playing?

This is Big

Dell’s announcement is notable — the fact that it's calling and selling something that doesn’t contain a component that you can touch makes it odd.

Or it introduces you to an entirely new way of thinking about a phone.

In any case, what the folks in Round Rock, Texas are claiming is that the Dell Business Phone is actually a cloud-based solution that provides secure access to enterprise phone, email and storage services from your own personal Android or iOS smartphone or tablet.

Dell’s pitch to IT managers is that it will streamline mobile/BYOD enablement with the availability of Dell Business Phone powered by Vonage Business Solutions, email integration with Microsoft Office 365 and access to Box for Dell to support enterprise content collaboration.

It’s a whole lot of enterprise class services that are built into a virtual phone.

Dell’s Hope for the Post-PC Era?

Though we’re not yet living in a post PC world, cloud-first, mobile first is the way of the future. Needless to say, this may not bode well for Dell, which has made its fortune and fame by selling desktop and laptop PC’s to the enterprise.

Dell’s hope now is that its mobile workspace capabilities, which extend the secure, managed enterprise workspace in the office and enable apps and services to share data securely and synchronize enterprise information seamlessly will be the ticket it needs to be competitive in a new world.

Dell’s EMM Pitch to CIOs

The pitch to CIOs is that the Dell Business Phone will be a mobile PC tied to what looks like the company network. It promises to give employees the flexibility and privacy of having a separate business line and phone number on their existing Android or iOS smartphone or tablet using Dell Mobile Workspace.

It also provides a unique feature that gives enterprises the ability to set security and calling policies which dictate things like automatically switching to Wi-Fi when it’s cheaper.

That’s Dell’s Bet, What’s Yours?

Like IBM, Dell still thinks the mobile enterprise is up for grabs. This is the card it's choosing to play. For Dell’s sake, let’s hope it’s a good one. 

Title image by Everett Collection / Shutterstock.