Blackberry Future Uncertain as US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Moves to iPhones

Blackberry Future Uncertain as US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Moves to iPhones
Despite its longstanding history as the Federal Government’s preferred mobile device, in recent years Blackberry has been losing its grip on the federal market. With announcements from both the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and prominent government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton Inc that they are dropping Research In Motion’s device in favor of popular iPhone and Android powered devices, the Blackberry’s future appears bleak despite the upcoming launch of their new Blackberry 10 platform.

In the ICE’s Limited Sources Justification published to the Federal Business Opportunities website on October 17th, 2012, the agency explains that while they have relied upon the Blackberry for over 8 years thanks to the device’s standardized services and capabilities, “the agency needs to update its standard for mobile technology the agency’s technical and business requirements” and that the Blackberry “can no longer meet the mobile technology needs of the agency.”

RIM’s once popular Blackberry has long been the Federal Government’s preferred mobile device, even after its popularity waned with commercial and enterprise customers. Even though RIM’s new Blackberry 10 platform has received the required security certification necessary for the device to be used by federal agencies, it’s unclear how long the company can continue to compete against iPhone and Android.

ICE’s recent contract award is expected to procure iPhone devices and services for 17,676 users. The USASpending website’s data indicates that in fiscal year 2012, over $5 million was spent on iPhone and iPad purchases for various federal agencies.

Although the Federal Government typically is slow to adopt new technology, this has not been the case when it comes to Apple’s popular iPhone and iPad devices. Agencies such as the GSA, Airforce, and VA all made headlines thanks to their enthusiastic purchases of the iPad, not long after its launch in 2010.

The new iPhone 5 has made news recently due to the demand for the new smartphone vastly exceeding the manufacturer’s ability to produce them. Apple reportedly sold five million of the iPhone 5 just three days after its launch on September 21st, 2012. Foxconn, the company which manufactures the iPhone, has stated that the difficulty and complexity required to produce the iPhone is to blame for production falling short of demand for the popular device.

The ICE is not the only agency dropping Blackberry for iPhone. Earlier in the year, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also announced their intention to switch from Blackberry to iPhone. Other private sector defectors include Halliburton and Yahoo dropping the Blackberry for more mainstream, popular options.

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