Yahoo Drops BlackBerry As Corporate Phone

Freelance Technology Reporter for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

Yahoo’s new chief executive has announced the company will stop offering BlackBerrys to employees in favour of handsets running Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android or Microsoft’s Windows 8

Yahoo employees soon will be giving up their company-supported Research in Motion (RIM) BlackBerry devices as the search company moves its workforce over to iPhone, Android and Windows 8 smartphones, according to a published report.

“New Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer just sent an email to all of Yahoo’s full time and part-time employees in the US, promising them a new Apple, Samsung, Nokia, or HTC smartphone,” said a 15 September story on

BlackBerry out

Most notable about the programme, which was revealed through an internal memo obtained by the website, is that RIM’s BlackBerry devices will no longer be among the options for employees to choose from when the programme begins, according to In the past, RIM BlackBerry devices were the primary supported devices for the company’s workers.

Here is the memo from Mayer, which was reportedly sent to Yahoo’s 12,000 global employees:

“We have a very exciting update to share with you today – we are announcing Yahoo! Smart Phones, Smart Fun! As of today, Yahoo is moving off of blackberries (sic) as our corporate phones and on to smartphones in 22 countries. A few weeks ago, we said that we would look into smartphone penetration rates globally and take those rates into account when deciding on corporate phones. Ideally, we’d like our employees to have devices similar to our users, so we can think and work as the majority of our users do.

“Moving forward, we’ll offer you a choice of devices as well as provide monthly plans for the data and phone.

“The smartphone choices that we are including in the programme are:

* Apple iPhone 5
* Android:
– Samsung Galaxy S3
– HTC One X
* Windows Phone 8:
– Nokia Lumia 920

“We’re getting started right away and taking orders starting now.”

As part of the new programme, Yahoo will cover the monthly bills for the new smartphones for its workers, according to

In an email reply to an inquiry about the report, a Yahoo spokeswoman wrote: “We don’t comment on rumours, speculations or internal matters.”

Market shift

Several analysts say that the purported move models what is already being seen in the mobile marketplace as smartphones are dominating the landscape, much to the dismay of companies like RIM.

“It’s simply a realisation of where the smartphone market is going,” said Dana Gardner, principal analyst with Interarbor Solutions. “It first and foremost validates the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach in productivity with a twist – the twist being that they’ll buy the device but that you’ll still get to choose it as a worker.”

Dropping RIM as its device provider is not a huge surprise, Gardner said, because BlackBerry devices can’t support the key business productivity apps that are being sought by business users. Instead, those apps are available for iPhones, Android and even Windows smartphones.

“This is a leading adopter kind of a position, which you would expect from a company like Yahoo – at least the newer Yahoo,” he said. “I would expect more companies to realise that different workers have different preferences, but that the smartphone provides an always-on, hyper-productivity for their employees. It’s a nice balance between an employer’s technology preferences and user choice and self-sufficiency.”

Kevin Benedict, an analyst with Netcentric Strategies, said he recently completed a survey of 120 IT companies on their choices for mobile devices for their workers and that Yahoo’s move mirrors the results he collected.

Customer choice

Asked how those businesses prioritised the mobile operating systems they plan to support in the next few years, the number-one choice was Apple’s iOS, followed by Android and Windows, said Benedict. RIM’s BlackBerry was a “distant fourth”, he said.

“The data supports it loud and clear,” Benedict said of the Yahoo move. “I recently talked with a company of 100,000 users which is preparing to switch from BlackBerry to iOS” because that’s what the employees wanted. “It’s the entire ecosystem around iOS, from iTunes to The App Store, to the volume of quality apps that are available. And the capabilities that you are getting are so greatly enhanced.”

Another analyst, Charles King of Pund-IT, said the Yahoo moves also makes sense from the standpoint of a large enterprise wanting to rein in the number of platforms it supports to cut costs. “Everybody is trying to save a buck on IT management,” said King. “I imagine Yahoo did some research with employees before making the announcement and discovered that the number of workers preferring a BlackBerry over an iPhone or Android was fairly miniscule.”

The big loser in all of this is RIM, which for years had been the mobile device provider of choice for large enterprises that wanted mobility, security and excellent device management for its workers.

“It’s certainly not a happy announcement for RIM,” King said of the Yahoo move. “RIM is continuing to try to argue for their own relevance and being abandoned, even though Yahoo is not the company it once was, having them walk away from your platform is not happy news for RIM.”

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