ATF set to ditch BlackBerry in favor of the more functional iPhone

iPhone 4S hero

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.

Source: Politico

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chrisoldroyd

UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

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ATF set to ditch BlackBerry in favor of the more functional iPhone

13 Comments

This is becoming more commonplace. Unfortunately blackberry has been stagnant And need to step up their game.

WOW. Take that, RIM. I guess the ATF isn't waiting around to see what RIM is going to do with the BB later this year either.

If ATF is purchasing the iPhones it might be violating U.S. federal procurement law (namely the Trade Agreements Act (“TAA”)). As far as I know, Apple does not make a TAA compliant version of the iPhone and it would be difilcult to make an argument that only an iPhone meets ATF’s minimum needs, which would allow it to accept non-TAA compliant iPhones.

Background:http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/TradeAgreementsActof1979
Essentially, it can restrict procurement to items made in the US or a country that fulfills certain requirements. China does not, but, according to this link, Taiwan does:
http://gsa.federalschedules.com/Resource-Center/Resources/TAA-Designated...
The Wikipedia article suggests that somebody has to trigger a review first. Since other agencies have iPhones in the mix, I assume either nobody has or that the iPhone somehow passed muster. If not, and I was RIM, I would be lobbying like crazy to trigger that review.

The iPhone is not TAA compliant, which is the reason it is not listed on the GSA schedule (large purchasing vehicle for the Federal Government). The issue is whether any smartphone is TAA compliant. On the tablet side there are TAA complaint tablets, so most agencies will not purchase iPads.
The way TAA works is a contractor must identify which of its products are not TAA compliant. If the contractor does not call out a particular product as non-TAA compliant the Government will presume all products offered are TAA complaint. The Goverment will only question this presumption if evidence that calls into question this presumption is brought to its attention. If a contractor is found to have violated the TAA (supplied non-TAA complaint product where it did not identify its products as non-TAA compliant) it will face a fine and damages (the damages up to 3 times the contract value). The contractor could also be debarred from contracting with the Federal Government.

Interesting stuff. IANAL, but how does that questioning work? I have already wasted far too much time poking around, but I can find matches for "Research In Motion," "Apple," "Blackberry," and "Macintosh" in schedule 70 on the GSA elibrary, but no match for iPhone. Presumably, RIM is in the clear because they have some manufacturing in Canada, but doesn't Apple make all Macs in the same locales they make iPhones? If so, how would a Mac show up on a GSA schedule, but not an iPhone? Surely the government could uncover the secret that Macs are made in China, so would they be intentionally turning a blind eye to evidence here, or is there some exception process? If the former, it is hard to imagine a competitor not pouncing on the opportunity to bring that evidence to the fore, loudly and publicly.

Blackberry still pretty much dominates the enterprise world but like most of you said our old CEOs was disgusting when it came to innovation and giving what 'some' customers wanted but hopefully BB10 and Playbook 2.0 will save us in the long run and more ideas to come #teamblackberry

I totally cant stand itunes so its BB all the way for me else going android.
BB9000, BB9700, BB9780, PB2.0, Galaxy Tab 10i

Now the ATF will be more efficient when they give guns to Mexican drug cartels. "Siri, send a message to los zetas: the guns can be picked up in an hour. Please try not to shoot any border patrol officers this time."

I loved my BB keyboards. Nobody did it better. However, the OS was old 3 years ago, and improvements they made, just weren't enough. I'm only an iPhone user now, love the OS, but miss my BB keyboard. The iPhone will never have a keyboard, from all the things we have all heard the last few years. Perhaps there will be a BB with android some day, and I might get one of those. There is not a snowball's chance in hell, BBX or BB10, or whatever they are calling it these days, will see the light of day on a bold style phone.

Let's see ATF is spending $200 per iphone and purchasing a MDM lincesce for each in the $150 range per device....($350 at 2400units=$840,000) or they could of upgraded to to BB 7.0 devices at no cost. That's what should be on the front page of the paper! What about the tax dollars going to waste. Further, purchasing devices manufactured in China to process law enforcement sensitive infomation...good grief.