RIM Loses US BlackBerry Government Contract

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined
as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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The US Immigration and Customers Enforcement Agency ends its contract with RIM in favour of the iPhone

Struggling smartphone manufacturer RIM has suffered yet another blow, after a US government agency announced it is going to ditch BlackBerry in favour of the iPhone.

The US Immigration and Customers Enforcement Agency (ICE) will end its contract with RIM and supply its 17,600 employees with iPhones in an order estimated to be worth around $2.1 million.

ICE said that although it had relied on RIM for eight years, the BlackBerry platform was no longer suitable for its needs. The iPhone was chosen as it offers a secure and manageable platform with tight controls on the operating system, according to ICE.

BlackBerry government blow

BlackBerry government usage has been high in the US due to the devices’ superior security and device management features, which appeal to police, military and government officials. RIM still has more than one million government customers in the US, but the advantages of the platform have become less unique in recent times due to security improvements on iOS and Android.

The General Services Administration, the US government’s main procurement agency, said in February that it was going to offer iPhone and Android devices to its employees alongside BlackBerry products, in order to reduce its reliance on RIM.

The same security and management features of the BlackBerry also appealed to corporate IT managers, but they too have begun to desert the platform. Only last month, Yahoo said it was going to offer users a choice of iOS, Android and Windows 8 smartphones to its employees instead of BlackBerrys.

Hopes for a RIM revival rest on smartphones running the perpetually-delayed BlackBerry 10 operating system, but yet another hitch has seen their debut put back until March 2013 at the earliest.

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