ATF Replacing "Outdated" BlackBerry Smartphones with iPhones
February 29, 2012 10:50 AM
Special agents in the field to be the first to get new iPhones
RIM’s line of BlackBerry smartphones has long been
losing favor among consumers and businesses
alike in the United States. Consumers who were once inseparable from their “CrackBerries” are now
turning in increasing numbers
to Apple’s iPhone or any number of smartphones using Google’s Android operating system.
RIM is now taking flak from the U.S. government, which it has long relied on for much of its business. The latest government agency to move away from BlackBerry smartphones is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The ATF is set to ditch about 3,800 BlackBerry smartphones in a move that should be complete within roughly a year.
The BlackBerries devices will mostly be replaced by Apple iPhones. ATF chief information officer Rick Holgate simply stated, "We’re going to delete the BlackBerry from the mix." He also noted that more than 60 percent of the replacement devices are initially planned to be the iPhone.
This is the second federal agency to ditch the BlackBerry in favor of the Apple smartphone. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is also set to phase out about 3,000 BlackBerry smartphones.
The ATF plans to start the transition in March by replacing roughly 2,400 BlackBerries in use by special agents in the field. The ATF also intends to eliminate about 1,400 BlackBerry devices that other employees use with a mix of other unspecified smart devices. Some of those will likely be replaced with the iPad; a test involving about 200 of those tablets is wrapping up at the ATF now.
Holgate added, "The government has been very comfortable with the BlackBerry model for 10 years. Now we're looking to move beyond that."
Politico reports that right now ATF is prepping its mobile device infrastructure to support the iPhone purchase.
According to Holgate, the BlackBerry infrastructure is too expensive to maintain and that while cost was a reason for moving away from the BlackBerry devices, functionality was the main reason for the move.
“Video streaming, GPS capability, capabilities, the camera … a variety of things,” Holgate said. “Yes, these things exist on BlackBerrys, but in terms of ease of use and adaptability of the devices, the iPhones are the more functional and compelling use case.”
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