Head of Dell's mobile unit to quit; division will shut down

Smartphone, tablet products will be folded into other groups, spokesman says

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Does this mean Dell workers get to keep their BlackBerrys?

Just two weeks after announcing it would replace the 25,000 BlackBerrys used by employees with its own Venue Pro smartphone, computer maker Dell revealed that the executive running the company's mobile business will leave the company in January, to be replaced by...well, nobody.

(Also see: Dell to kick CrackBerry habit)

Instead, Dell will dissolve the communications solutions group currently headed by the departing Ron Garriques and disperse its products such as smartphones and tablets to other business units, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This sure sounds like a prelude to giving up on the consumer mobile device market. Or maybe the consumer mobile device market is giving up on Dell. The consumer unit's $2.9 billion revenue for the second quarter -- just 19 percent of overall revenue -- was unchanged from the year-ago period and down from $3.2 billion in the first quarter. The consumer division also had a net loss of $21 million in Q2.

The company is due to report Q3 numbers after Thursday's market close. Sounds like there may be some more unpleasant metrics for Garriques's division. Maybe that's what precipitated the timing of Dell's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Meanwhile, Garriques faces the grim fate of all well-connected executives whose divisions under-perform -- a $1.4 million severance agreement and a $6 million, one-year consulting contract. Remember that the next time Dell won't offer you a break on a computer.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

Teaser image courtesy of Bin im Garten

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