BlackBerry out at U.S. climate agency, iPhone in

Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:05pm EST
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Research In Motion's BlackBerry smartphone has struggled to win over U.S. consumers but the Canadian company has long been able to rely on the loyalty of corporate and government clients who depend on its secure email. No more.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a U.S. federal agency that studies climate and the environment, plans to replace some of its employees' BlackBerrys with Apple iPhones and get rid of the servers that power RIM's smartphones by June.

"It all comes down to economics," Joe Klimavicz, NOAA's chief information officer, said in a phone interview on Friday. "I've got a lot of pressure to cut our operating costs."

RIM charges a fee for use of its servers and data centers, which compress and encrypt email and other sensitive data. The company's early success was due to a reliance on BlackBerry smartphones by lawyers, bankers, politicians and bureaucrats.

But with budgets under pressure and competitors improving their security bone fides, BlackBerry is no longer the only game in town.

Earlier this week, oilfield services company Halliburton said it plans to switch 4,500 BlackBerry-toting employees to iPhones, saying that the Apple device is better suited to its needs. Several banks have already welcomed rival devices.

Klimavicz said NOAA's move was made possible after it switched its desktop-based software to Google Apps for Government last December. Another U.S. agency, the General Services Administration, has also moved to Google Apps, Klimavicz said.

Google's enterprise business offers Web-based versions of word processing, spreadsheet and other common software applications in a direct challenge to Microsoft. For a set price Google includes mobile-device management capabilities similar to what RIM offers for its BlackBerrys.   Continued...

<p>BlackBerry smartphones are displayed at a store in Seoul January 18, 2012. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji</p>