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Federal managers quickly ditching BlackBerry for iOS, Android devices

post #1 of 12
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According to recent research there has been a huge shift in what handsets U.S. federal managers use on the job, with many moving away from RIM's BlackBerry platform for more capable iOS and Android solutions.

The research arm of Government Executive, the Government Business Council, found that the share of managers using BlackBerry devices dropped from 77 percent in August 2009 to less than 50 percent in September 2011, reports government blog Nextgov.

Many former Research in Motion stalwarts are abandoning the BlackBerry ship and moving to handsets popular in the consumer market. The share of managers using iPhones, for example, has nearly tripled since 2009 and now stands at 23 percent while Google's Android platform accounts for 25 percent. Apple's iPad is also seeing an increase in usage, now owning 17 percent of the government market.

Two main drivers, availability of apps and age, are behind the move away from BlackBerry, the report concludes. GBC's research saw older government executives sticking with easy-to-use feature phones, but younger managers have started the trend toward non-BlackBerry smartphones. Managers 41 to 50 years old mainly use iOS devices while the younger 40-and-under demographic gravitates toward Android. BlackBerry holds the lion's share of 51- to 60-year-olds.

One of the first government agencies to officially adopt Apple's devices was the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which announced in February that it would be replacing around 2,000 BlackBerry smartphones with iOS hardware. NOAA is said to be cutting off BlackBerry support on May 12, at which time the units will be replaced by the iPhone 4 and iPad 2.

?We?re not buying additional BlackBerry devices,? said Stefan Leeb, NOAA's program manager tasked with the switchover. ?Our intention is to be off BlackBerrys by June 1.?

The agency is attempting to be platform-agnostic and is currently testing Android devices to make sure they meet compatibility and security requirements. In the short-term, however, NOAA is opting for Apple solutions because the iOS platform is the easiest to get working with its existing operating environment.

?We don?t want to be stuck with BlackBerrys,? Leeb said. ?It?s not because we don?t like BlackBerrys. It?s because we want to have other capabilities.? Price was also a factor, as Leeb said, "we need to reduce our operating costs and the cost to license, operate and manage BlackBerry devices is very high compared to alternatives that support multiple mobile platforms,?

A second government entity, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, is also planning to move away from BlackBerry and will be replacing 3,800 smartphones with handsets running alternate platforms, 60 percent of which will be iOS-powered.

iOS Enterprise
Apple's iPhone in business webpage advertises the handset's workplace capabilities. | Source: Apple


With smartphone popularity on the rise, some government institutions have allowed its employees to use personal devices at work in what is called a bring your own device, or BYOD, policy. This has raised security concerns as non-managed handsets can easily compromise networks with malware, problems that the BlackBerry platform handles well.

?It?s difficult to prevent people from loading applications or jail-breaking their phones, and that complication is largely solved in the BlackBerry,? said Tom Hallewell, president of the Information Systems Security Association?s Washington chapter. ?Everyone is clear that you can?t load apps on your government laptop...you can?t smoke cigarettes at work, and you have to take a drug test and you can?t use a Droid.?

RIM's products are not perfect, however, and experts have noted a recent decline in reliability as well as issues with the platform's data path. Because the Canadian company has located the BlackBerry control servers in its home country, all data must travel across borders where privacy laws may not be congruent with U.S. statutes.

?Physically, the device is pretty secure, but the data path is maybe not so secure,? Hallewell said.

Also relevant to data control is the 2011 three day outage RIM suffered in the EMEIA (Eurpoe, Middle East, India and Africa) region, which was followed by another disruption in the same area less than one month later. The problem was later traced back to a faulty UK server.

RIM is on the verge of rolling out a series of products based on its new BlackBerry 10 mobile OS, though some see the effort as too little, too late.

BB10
RIM CEO Thorsen Heins unveils the a smartphone prototype powered by the new BlackBerry 10 OS. | Source: Reuters


Further cementing the government's BlackBerry phase-out, the Defense Information Systems Agency, the Department of Defense's IT arm, is expected to release a document in August that will cover Android and iOS security guidelines.

?Our intent with this document is to establish a better partnership with industry so that any vendor interested in doing business with DoD can provide a release that is designed to our security goals at the same time the product is released to the commercial marketplace,? said Mark Orndorff, DISA chief information assurance executive.

Apple's iOS has a few hurdles to jump through, like gaining Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2 compatibility, with which next-generation BlackBerrys are already compliant. The consensus remains, however, that the iPhone, iPad and Android will take over government as employees continue to exhibit demand in line with the consumer market.
post #2 of 12

I wouldn't call a 27% shift in two years huge, when rim still has half the market to itself... AI sure wants rim to die as quickly as they can... how's that apple insider news is beyond me though... The frequent front page articles on rim are getting tiring, as much glee as they might bring for the authors and some users here...

post #3 of 12

Thorsen Heins' pose in that photo calls out to be turned into a meme.

"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #4 of 12

Our government officials are always looking "Forward".

post #5 of 12

Personally, I'd like to thank RIM for their moving tribute on the 100th year of the Titanic sinking with this authentic reenactment.

 

It brings a tear to one's eye the level of commitment and authenticity with the trouble that they've gone to.


Edited by GTR - 5/3/12 at 9:55pm
post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by myapplelove View Post

I wouldn't call a 27% shift in two years huge, when rim still has half the market to itself...

 

You wouldn't? Going from 77% to less than 50% in less than 2 years is immense - especially when you consider how many of those phones are under contract and couldn't be simply discarded. They've lost more than 1/3 of what was probably their most stable customer base.


Keep in mind, as well, that most of the above big changes occurred after Sept 2011, so the current number is significantly less than where it was in September.

 

Talk about burying your head in the sand!

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Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #7 of 12
Wow! Losing more than 1/3 in 2 years for business users is just another nail in the coffin. I'd like to see RiM do some Applesque turnaround but nothing I've seen from their management, restructuring, QNX OS, or BlackBerry 10 shows any chance for them turning it all around.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by myapplelove View Post

I wouldn't call a 27% shift in two years huge, ...

 

What word would you use to describe a 27% drop in your salary?

post #9 of 12

The analogy isn't apt. If I were in an extremely competitive market where the competition had much more resources and clout than myself and I still managed to retain half of the market, down from 77% after a couple of years I wouldn't be too disappointed, I certainly wouldn't consider it a huge shift, more of an expected hit in hard competitive times.

 

Btw, let me ask you guys from ai here something? Why 'd you want RIM to go under so much? You 've been reporting about them like the last days of a death row inmate. Every piece of news that can be used as a further incentive by readers to abandon rim's products is reported and a fest of schadenfreude ensues. Is the intended goal to make apple look like the only viable platform? If you were not apple shareholders would you think that rim going under, as palm went under is doing consumers or innovation any favors?

 

It's not particularly good news that  apple's gargantuan monster what with its clout and obscene wealth has gobbled up another bit player because they can't match them in economies of scale and supplier prices, as well as development efforts. I certainly wouldn't want my only alternative to an apple phone to be effing google (slapped on some korean hardware) or microsoft. I was disappointed to see palm suffer such an untimely demise first by not being able on their own to face competition, and then at the hands of some idiot execs at hp. Some of you guys here are programmers. Is it ever good news that so much arduous programming effort is going to waste and can't find a viable niche in the market? Is anyone here happy that webos that had a lot of promise about, and very commendable elements to it, looks to be destined for hobbyist community?

 

This rim reporting thing here is bordering on obsession, no one's reporting so much about rim on any apple related website... anyway...

 

@jrg hadn't noticed the 2011 thing, guess I am still a year back and won't accept being another year older :)

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by delreyjones View Post

What word would you use to describe a 27% drop in your salary?

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post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by delreyjones View Post

 

What word would you use to describe a 27% drop in your salary?

 

Actually, it's more than that. It's more than a 35% drop. ((77-50)/77).

"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
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post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by myapplelove View Post

The analogy isn't apt. If I were in an extremely competitive market where the competition had much more resources and clout than myself and I still managed to retain half of the market, down from 77% after a couple of years I wouldn't be too disappointed, I certainly wouldn't consider it a huge shift, more of an expected hit in hard competitive times.

 

You may not consider it a huge shift, but RIM and its shareholders and developers do consider it a major shift and a frightening trend.

 

I agree that RIM is not on the verge of bankruptcy, they still have a decent cash reserve and a decent sales base. It would be great if they could sort themselves out and come out with an impressive, well executed new software and hardware story, or had the courage to reinvent themselves as a software-only solution for secure email.

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