Overall, BlackBerry’s dominance has quickly faded. Today, phones based on Google’s Android software account for 48 percent of the market, while Apple’s iPhone has 32 percent and BlackBerrys have dropped to a distant third place with 12 percent.
Last week, RIM reported quarterly earnings that missed analysts’ expectations. Its profit dropped to $418 million in the last three months of 2011, compared with the $934 million it earned during the same period in 2010. Several senior executives resigned their posts, including former co-chief executive Jim Balsillie. On Monday, RIM’s stock fell about 9.5 percent in regular trading.
And RIM’s focus on the government is hardly exclusive. Each agency chooses its technology providers independently. So competition remains fierce for their business.
That’s helped Apple and other device makers gain access to the State Department, NASA and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and Education Secretary Arne Duncan last week promoted the use of Apple’s iPad tablets to improve learning in public schools.
The competition has left workers in a kind of device limbo, in which some have resorted to carrying two devices — one for work and one for play.
Christina Cox, a Washington events planner, plans to switch to an iPhone when her contract with Verizon Wireless is up next month. She’s willing to pick up the cost for the iPhone, even though she can get reimbursed for her BlackBerry bills.
“Everyone used to have a BlackBerry in town, but I need more than just e-mail,” Cox said about her BlackBerry.
Yet for some locals, the fancier and faster phones that have been quickly rolled out carry little appeal.
Lindsey Bowen, a 29-year-old program director at the Junior Statesmen Foundation, often has to defend her BlackBerry as iPhone- and Android-obsessed friends mock her device. Seen as outdated and uncool, it's become the Washington worker’s fashion equivalent of a hard-shell Samsonite briefcase.
“Tell us again, how many apps do you have on that thing?” they tease.
But Bowen recoils at the thoughts of a touch-screen smartphone. The embarrassing spelling errors with the iPhone’s auto-correct feature. The insecure thumbing away at letters and numbers on a flat screen compared with the satisfying touch of a raised keyboard.
“I love the keyboard. I just can’t get used to anything else,” Bowen said.