Ron Garriques Out As Dell Rethinks Mobile Business

Dell may have grabbed a few headlines the other week when it announced it was ditching its BlackBerries in favor of Windows Phone 7 handsets (coincidentally made by Dell itself), but its mobile business has otherwise failed to spark significant interest. Now the company is reorganising the business unit, and Ron Garriques, its mobile chief, is leaving in the process.

The announcement was made in an SEC filing late on November 17. It notes also that Garriques, whose official title is president of communication solutions, will stay on at Dell until January 28, 2011.

After that, Dell will not be replacing Garriques. According to Dell spokesperson David Frink (quoted by BusinessWeek), Dell will instead redirect its mobile sales into its consumer, large enterprise and government units, which the units overseeing sales of devices for their particular segment of the market – not unlike the reorg we are now seeing at Motorola (NYSE: MOT), where Garriques had worked prior to joining Dell in 2007.

Meanwhile, Dell’s vice chairman for operations and technology, Jeff Clarke, will oversee mobile product development. Future devices – handsets and tablets – are being developed on both Android and Windows Phone 7 platforms.

Before the announcement, there were already some worrying signs about how well Dell was doing.

When Windows Phone 7 handsets launched in the U.S. two weeks ago, everyone talked about the HTC and Samsung devices, while Dell’s Venue Pro, when it launched, had to offer replacement models to some when the devices had problems with their WiFi and batteries.

Then, when Dell last summer launched its version of the Android tablet, the five-inch Streak, it seemed neither here nor there: too big to sit in the handset group; too small to dance with the other tablets on the market.

Some blame to the company’s retail strategy as part of the problem: the Venue Pro device, for example, was initially being sold directly by Dell and through Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) retail outlets, but not through carriers; it is now selling via T-Mobile and may add others. (Dell also has an Android handset, the Aero.)

Compensation for Garriques is generous. The SEC filing details that he will receive a $1.44 million severance payment, an incentive plan payment of $378,000, and two further payments of $3.15 million for consulting services.