Government execs ditch BlackBerry for iPhone and Android

Posted by Shane McGlaun

There was a time when BlackBerry maker RIM dominated the rather lucrative enterprise and government spaces.

However, BlackBerry smartphones have fallen out of grace with the average consumer and now seem to be less popular among federal managers and enterprise users as well.

Yes, federal managers are apparently ditching the stalwart BlackBerry for Apple's sleek iPhone and a number of Android devices.

Indeed, a recent survey conducted by the Government Business Council found a significant decline in the use of BlackBerry smartphones.

In August of 2009, 77% of federal managers used a BlackBerry handset, a statistic which ultimately plummeted to less than 50% by September 2011.

As noted above, it seems as if managers are increasingly using the iPhone, as 23% have adopted the device as their handset of choice, while 25% went with Android.

One reason federal managers are moving away from BlackBerry? The availability of apps on iOS and Android, coupled with aging BlackBerry hardware and an outdated operating system. Of course, RIM hopes the recently unveiled BlackBerry 10 operating system will bring users back to the fold, but I for one don't see that happening.

Younger federal managers are also cited as a factor in the shift from BlackBerry devices to the iPhone or Android. Typically, managers 41-50 years old use iOS devices, with managers 40 and under choosing Android (those 51-60 years tend to prefer BlackBerry). Another problem? The cost of supporting BlackBerry devices which use proprietary server software.

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

"It’s not because we don’t like BlackBerrys. It’s because we want to have other capabilities.  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.”