Ford to nix BlackBerry in favor of iPhone

The automaker confirms that it will replace BlackBerry phones with Apple iPhones for around 3,300 workers by the end of 2014.

BlackBerry Z10
Move over BlackBerry. The iPhone is head to Ford town. Josh Miller/CNET

The iPhone is muscling out the BlackBerry at yet another major organization.

A Ford spokeswoman told Bloomberg this week that the automaker will replace BlackBerry devices with iPhones for about 3,300 employees before the year is over. Further, the flip phones used by 6,000 more workers will be dumped in favor of iPhones over the next two years.

Ford has even hired a technology analyst whose primary focus will be the "global deployment of corporate iPhones," through early 2014, according to an online job ad.

BlackBerry had long been the mobile darling of corporations and government agencies in part because of its tight security features. But the growing demand for and appeal of the Apple iPhone and of Android devices among corporate workers has prompted more organizations to rethink their reliance on BlackBerry.

Ford is just the latest large organization to make the move from BlackBerry to Apple's iPhone. In February 2013, major retailer Home Depot confirmed a decision to dole out iPhones to around 10,000 employees who had been using BlackBerry devices. The US government has also gotten into the drop-BlackBerry act at such agencies as the Department of Defense and the US Immigration and Customers Enforcement agency.

Apple has also expressed a greater desire to focus on the corporate market via a deal with IBM. The two companies this month announced that they would team up to create iOS apps specifically for certain industries. Big Blue will even take on the sales role by pushing industry-focused iPhones and iPads as a bundle. With such a deal in place, more companies beyond Ford are likely to follow suit and jump ship to the land of iOS.

Of course, BlackBerry isn't thrilled with Ford's decision.

"While we can't comment on this customer, we understand that there is diversity and choice in the market," Blackberry spokesman Adam Emery told Bloomberg via email. "Enterprises should think twice about relying on any solution built on the foundation of a consumer technology that lacks the proven security benefits that BlackBerry has always delivered."

In one ironic twist, Ford is mulling a move to BlackBerry's QNX operating system to power the next version of its Sync in-car system. BlackBerry has been busy pushing and demoing its QNX operating system for automakers. Due out in the third quarter of this year, a new version called QNX OS for Automotive Safety 1.0 promises new innovations designed for security and safety, including heads-up displays, advanced driver assistance systems, and digital instrument clusters.

Ford currently uses Microsoft software to run its automotive infotainment systems. Though a Bloomberg report published in February claimed that QNX was already in gear to replace Microsoft's OS, so far no official confirmation of such a switch has been annnounced.

 

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