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U.S. Senator Rand Paul talks on his iPhone.  (Source: Associated Press)
Apple and Google beginning to overtake enterprise stalwart Research In Motion

For years, the one competitive advantage BlackBerry maker Research In Motion had over other smartphone manufacturers was its secure e-mail and messaging service. This made BlackBerries the simple choice for both corporate employees and government workers. But as the business-casual trend has made casual Fridays all but moot, the overlap of personal and professional has also led to more business and government types choosing (and begging for) consumer electronic devices in their professional dealings.

A new report from The Washington Post sheds light on the phenomenon that has led to more government employees, in particular, to choose Apple and Google products over RIM's recently.

"The best way I can describe BlackBerry is as a one-trick pony," Needham & Co. analyst Charlie Wolf told The Post. "The one trick was their secure messaging platform. Management has yet to understand that the world has changed. They didn’t understand that it was a software game going forward."

RIM's late (and unpolished) start to the tablet wars has also hampered the company at a time when more and more government employees are using Apple's iPad in daily work applications instead of a more traditional laptop PC.

The changes signify a cultural shift that has already begun in earnest in the corporate sector. While iPhones and Android smartphones are quickly replacing BlackBerries, Microsoft Outlook is being eschewed for Gmail. The Post reports that the General Services Administration is currently moving 17,000 employees onto Gmail. 

"People have better access to information technology at their homes than they do at work, and that’s especially true in the public sector," Vivek Kundra, the federal government’s CIO told The Post. "If you look at the average school kid, he or she probably has better technology in his or her backpack than most of us do in government offices."

The report cites a recent study by Forrester Research that found that 35 percent of U.S. workers "either buy their own smartphone for work, use unsanctioned Web sites or download unapproved applications on a work computer," saying that the technology is better than what their job provides; they use it at home and want to use it at work, too. 

And many federal workers want to carry one device for both their professional and personal business, rather than keeping a BlackBerry for work and an iPhone or Android for home. 

While much of the changes have come from employees asking for them, they may prove positive for management, too. Officials say the shift could cut billions from the $80 billion annual IT budget in Washington, all the while making workers more productive. The GSA's move to Gmail could cut 50 percent of IT expenses over the next five years since it will no longer have to maintain its own servers and will not have to pay for software updates. The USDA also is primed to save about $6 million a year by switching to Microsoft's cloud-based e-mail service.

The report points out that the adoption of consumer devices has been relatively small, so far, but it has reached a number of disparate agencies: 

At ATF, there are about 50 iPads or iPhones in use, and the number could increase to 100 soon. At the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the 1,000 BlackBerrys used last year have dropped to about 700 as workers picked other smartphones. The State Department is testing iPads. Congress now allows iPads and iPhones on the House floor.

All of the changes seemingly benefit frontline employees and top-level officials, but mean nothing but more bad news for RIM.



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Vivek Kundra has no clue that he is talking about
By sas_2010 on 6/1/2011 9:25:40 AM , Rating: 5
While I am totally agree that RIM is very slow on both hardware and software releases and cannot keep up with modern consumer trends, but as of right now there is no real secure substitution for Blackberry platform.

This "better access to information technology at their homes than they do at work, and that’s especially true in the public sector" BS comes at the expense of total lack of security, not something you want to compromise in government network.




By Aloonatic on 6/1/2011 10:08:27 AM , Rating: 2
This is why I'm all for philandering politicians. They might not care about their e-mails that contain information about you or me being intercepted/accounts hacked, but they will care about the messages that they send to their mistresses being snooped upon.

More affairs = more secure networks :o)


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