Research in Motion CEO Thorsten Heins claims that at least 400,000 government customers will make the switch to the BlackBerry 10 OS in the United States. Unfortunately for RIM, those numbers may be offset by the massive exodus by other US agencies.
The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has revealed plans to switch over to the Apple iPhone 5 smartphone because of Blackberry phones “failing both at inopportune times and at an unacceptable rate.” NTSB officials further note that it requires “effective, reliable and stable communication capabilities to carry out its primary investigative mission and to ensure employee safety in remote locations.”
Many of Blackberry’s devices currently in use by government workers are three years old, which means Blackberry must woo customers quickly or face further loses as their devices age out of circulation. Unfortunately, the company’s Blackberry 10 OS won’t be available until early 2013, which could lead to more loses as users begin looking for smartphone alternatives to replace their out-of-date smartphones.
Making matters worse, Sarneet Kanade, an analyst at Northern Securities, believes that the industry move away from Blackberry devices to Apple and Android-based phones will continue. Kanade tells Bloomberg:
“Once customers start coming out in the open and saying they’re dissatisfied with the product, it’s very, very difficult to increase business. It’s very difficult for your brand to be relevant when you’re losing your base itself.”
The biggest problem faced by RIM is the fact that three year old devices running BlackBerry OS 6 would need to be completely replaced in order for a government agency to effectively continue operating on BlackBerry servers.
It’s not just direct government agencies moving away from RIM device. Government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton has chosen iOS and Android based smartphones for its 25,000 employees, and other agencies are following that same path.