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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.