Tuesday, October 23, 2012

RIM loses major federal contract with ICE to the iPhone

It is too little, too late for RIM. The once high-flying BlackBerry maker has - or rather, will be - ditched by a major federal agency, which says that the company can no longer "meet the mobile technology needs of the agency."

The news comes from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), which on Monday said it would be terminating its contract with RIM in favor of Apple's iPhone. The news is a major blow for RIM, which is planning to release a new generation of devices in Q1, based on BlackBerry 10.

Although those devices are coming in Q1 2013, they were delayed from an earlier expected launch this year. That earlier launch may have saved RIM's ICE contract, but now it is impossible to know if that could possibly have been the case.

ICE said it has relied on BlackBerry devices for eight years, but that RIM "can no longer meet the mobile technology needs of the agency."

Apple won ICE's contract over Android devices, because, after examining both iOS and Android, ICE decided that, at least for the near term, Apple's iPhone is the best fit for the agency because Apple tightly controls the hardware and software of the iPhone.

It's true that Android's advantage globally has been in its ability to offer a number of form factors and devices from a number of manufacturers, but that strength is also a weakness, resulting in Android fragmentation and slow ROM upgrades for devices when a new major Android version appears.

In terms of iPhone use, ICE said:
The iPhone will be used by "... variety of agency personnel, including, but not limited to, Homeland Security Investigations, Enforcement and Removal Operations and Office of the Principal Legal Advisor employees. The iPhone services will allow these individuals to leverage reliable, mobile technology on a secure and manageable platform in furtherance of the agency's mission."
Security and encryption used to be the major advantage that RIM's BlackBerry had over other devices. However, the company failed to respond to the iPhone, and even ridiculed it, at first, when the device was introduced.

It has since played catch up, and trails Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone in terms of having a device with a current-generation operating system.



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