In another bout of bad news for BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is exploring a switch from BlackBerrys to Apple's iPhones.
The government agency posted a solicitation document on the Federal Business Opportunities website requesting the switch, and suggesting its BlackBerrys "have been failing both at inopportune times and at an unacceptable rate." The board said Apple's new iPhone 5 is expected to provide greater reliability moving forward.
"The NTSB requires effective, reliable and stable communication capabilities to carry out its primary investigative mission and to ensure employee safety in remote locations," the board wrote in the posting. RIM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The National Transportation Safety Board is the latest government agency -- which traditionally has been RIM's bread-and-butter market -- to abandon its BlackBerrys for iPhones. Last month, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) announced in its own solicitation posting that it's transitioning more than 17,600 employees to iPhones after an eight-year run using BlackBerrys. The agency, much like the National Transportation Safety Board, said that BlackBerrys were no longer able to meet its "mobile technology needs."
RIM has been struggling to keep up with rivals Apple and Google, especially as more business and government users start to bring their own devices to work as part of the accelerating bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. According to the most recent smartphone statistics from Gartner, the BlackBerry platform accounted for 5.3 percent of worldwide market share in the third quarter, compared to Android's 72.4 percent share and iOS' 13.9 percent share.
Still, RIM is confident its next-generation operating system, BlackBerry 10, will breathe new life into its BlackBerry brand when it launches on Jan. 30. The software will deliver a number of new features, such as touch-screen keyboards and a tool called BlackBerry Flow, which allows users to have multiple apps open at once, and switch between them with the swipe of a finger, rather than having to return to the home screen.
BlackBerry 10 is also expected to usher in a new generation of BlackBerry handsets, which RIM said will be available soon after the Jan. 30 launch.
PUBLISHED NOV. 21, 2012