The ATF (US department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) is ditching its deployment of BlackBerry smartphones in favor of a majority of iPhones. This is another high profile organisation that has decided that the BlackBerry does not offer them the ease of use or the functionality that the iPhone and other smartphones can offer.
The big changeover is expected to take place next month and will involve the replacement of a whopping 2,400 BlackBerry devices with iPhones. The iPhones will be assigned to special agents that work in the field. The ATF is currently changing its mobile infrastructure before ordering the new iPhones.
“We’re going to delete the BlackBerry from the mix,” Rick Holgate, ATF’s chief information officer, said in an interview. “The government has been very comfortable with the BlackBerry model for 10 years,” he said. “Now we're looking to move beyond that.” The company’s BlackBerry — with its secure email and back-end infrastructure — has dominated federal agencies for years. Holgate said keeping BlackBerry infrastructure in place when the agency is clearly shifting away from the device doesn’t make economic sense. Functionality, however, was the main decision behind the shift to the iPhone, he said. “Video streaming, GPS capability, capabilities, the camera … a variety of things,” Holgate said. “Yes, these things exist on BlackBerrys, but in terms of ease of use and adaptability of the devices, the iPhones are the more functional and compelling use case.”
The ATF will continue the BlackBerry replacement program with a mixture of other smartphones for its remaining 1400 employees. It is also running a pilot scheme involving the use of 200 iPads that is due to end soon.