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ICE freezes out Blackberry, warms to iPhone

The U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has announced it will be abandoning Blackberry in favor of the iPhone 5.

The U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has announced it will be abandoning Blackberry in favor of the iPhone 5.

Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIM) was dealt yet another blow last week when the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced it would be switching its more than 17,600 employees to iPhones.

The government agency had relied on Blackberrys for the last eight years, but, according to a recently released solicitation document, ICE officials feel that the device "can no longer meet the mobile technology needs of the agency."

The Chicago Tribune reports that Google's Android OS was also considered, but ultimately lost out to the iPhone because of "Apple's tight controls of the hardware platform and operating system."

Among the reasons listed in the ICE document for the move to the iPhone were:

•  Commercial viability and strong market share to ensure long-term support and enhancements
•  Uniform deployment for operating system modifications and security management
•  Product uniformity to ensure uniform training and supportability
•  Strong third-party developer interest
•  Application development tools needed to build custom mission support apps.

Despite RIM's new BB10 smartphone due to arrive in early 2013, the company continues to play catch-up in an industry it once dominated. The Blackberry was a staple in the business world for years, but is now struggling to keep up with the likes of Apple and Google.

There are many factors small and midsize businesses (SMBs) need to consider when integrating mobile solutions like smartphones and tablets in their day-to-day operations. One key thing to pay attention to is a provider's customer base and how it changes over time. While the upcoming BB10 device may suit many needs, if RIM continues to lose major clients like ICE, they may not have the longevity one would want.

SMB IT support is as much about the strength of a technology provider's business as it is about the product itself.