UPDATE 2-US federal agency to switch to iPhone, drop BlackBerry
* ICE agency to buy iPhones for over 17,600 employees
* Agency has used the BlackBerry for eight years
* Says RIM's technology can no longer meet its needs
By Nicola Leske
Oct 22 (Reuters) - The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) said it will end its contract with BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd in favor of Apple Inc's iPhone, dealing a new blow to RIM just months before it launches a vital new device.
The agency said in a solicitation document posted last week that it intends to buy iPhones for more than 17,600 employees - a purchase worth $2.1 million.
The agency said it has relied on RIM for eight years, but the company "can no longer meet the mobile technology needs of the agency."
It also said it analyzed Apple's iOS-based devices and Google Inc's Android operating system and concluded that, for the near term, Apple's iPhone services offer the best technology for the agency because of Apple's tight controls of the hardware platform and operating system.
The agency said the iPhone will be used by a "variety of agency personnel, including, but not limited to, Homeland Security Investigations, Enforcement and Removal Operations and Office of the Principal Legal Advisor employees. Continued...