Research In Motion has been steadily losing market share to rivals Apple and Google in the consumer market for years, but the struggling smartphone maker now appears to be losing its footing in its bread-and-butter federal market, as well.
According to a report Monday from Reuters, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is transitioning more than 17,600 employees to iPhones after an eight-year run using BlackBerrys. The move, which was announced in a solicitation document posted last week, will cost the agency $2.1 million.
In the document, the ICE said the BlackBerry platform "can no longer meet the mobile technology needs of the agency." Smartphones running Google's Android OS were also considered, but the ICE said it ultimately chose the iPhone because Apple boasts tighter hardware and OS security standards.
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The agency said the new iPhones will be used by a variety of agency personnel, including Homeland Security Investigations, Enforcement and Removal Operations and employees of the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor.
"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," the ICE said in the document.
Paul Lucier, RIM's vice president of government solutions, told Reuters the company was disappointed by the ICE's move.
"Of course, we are disappointed by this decision," Lucier said in an emailed statement. "We are working hard to make our new mobile computing platform, BlackBerry 10, meet the future needs of government customers."
BlackBerry 10, RIM's next-generation mobile operating system slated to launch during the first quarter of next year, is largely regarded as the smartphone maker's last-chance attempt at regaining some of the market share it has ceded to its rivals over the past few years.
Once one of the industry's most dominant smartphone players, particularly among enterprise users and government agencies, RIM's BlackBerry now accounts for a meager 1.9 percent of the global smartphone market, according to recent data form Gartner. Samsung, the market leader, accounts for 21.6 percent, followed by Nokia with 19.9 percent and Apple with 6.9 percent.
PUBLISHED OCT. 22, 2012