By itself, Dell's announcement that it will sell a GPRS data modem card and wireless data access wasn't big news. Behind the announcement, though, were indications of sea changes in the mobile industry.
For one thing, the announcement was an acknowledgement by a major player that 3G and hotspots are each insufficient for mobile enterprise users. Hotspot coverage is growing rapidly but remains spotty and, while wireless data service is more ubiquitous, it is fast enough only for basic applications.
Also lurking within Dell's announcement was an indication that some - but not all - operators are finally getting a clue about pricing their wireless data services.
One Dell partner, AT&T Wireless, clings to the silly notion that enterprises and consumers will flock to by-the-byte pricing for wireless access. The apparently selfish reasoning behind this type of pricing is painfully obvious given how operators are offering ever-more bandwidth-hungry wireless services and toys like camera phones. But that method of pricing runs counter to how most businesses and consumers acquire other types of Internet access.
By contrast, Dell's more clued-in partner, T-Mobile, offers flat $30 a month pricing for unlimited wireless data plus a combined flat rate of $50 a month for its wireless data and hotspot access. That's simpler for enterprises to budget for and just makes more sense.