And the Department of Veterans Affairs is getting ready to allow its clinicians to choose an iPad or iPhone instead of a BlackBerry. VA chief information officer Roger Baker said not offering access to consumer devices threatened to harm the department’s services by making it an undesirable place for young, bright doctors to work. “The more we say no, the more stodgy we would look,” Baker said. “So we had to figure out a way to say yes.”
As iPhones, iPads and Android devices pop up more in government, it could spell further trouble for Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry, whose market share fell from 21 percent in 2009 to 14 percent last year.
Analysts say RIM focused too much on its highly secure e-mail service instead of building a flexible application platform on which users and developers could innovate to make customers’ working lives more mobile and productive. The company also was late to the booming tablet market, which so far is dominated by Apple, with interest also bubbling in a slew of Android entrants.
“The best way I can describe BlackBerry is as a one-trick pony,” said Charlie Wolf, an analyst for Needham & Co., an investment bank. “The one trick was their secure messaging platform. Management has yet to understand that the world has changed. They didn’t understand that it was a software game going forward.”
For their part, RIM executives say they are making great strides in expanding developer interest in an updated version of the BlackBerry platform. And though a variety of third-party companies have popped up with services claiming to make iPhones and Android devices as secure as BlackBerrys, Theron Dodson, a senior RIM executive, said, “This is harder than it looks.”
At the same time, RIM quietly announced it was providing a new service allowing iPhones and Android devices to connect to its secure e-mail system. That was a tacit admission, analysts say, of the brutal challenges posed by Apple and Google.
“The rise of consumer technology in the enterprise — it’s here,” Kundra said. “It’s happening as we speak.”