Federal Agency Considers Taking Back BlackBerry

In a surprising twist, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency recently decided to renege on an exclusive iPhone deal, giving the BlackBerry another chance.

Research in Motion has been struggling to keep up in the mobile market, but they might’ve just gotten a new lease on life, however small.

As we previously reported, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) had planned to move its 17,600 employees from a Research in Motion BlackBerry platform to iPhones (a $2.1 million blow to RIM), citing better security features on the iPhone as the primary reason.

Our commitment to government agencies has influenced the development of the BlackBerry 10 platform.

According to ZDNet, the U.S. government recently awarded the upcoming BlackBerry 10, which comes out January 30, a certification needed to assure users that it was highly secure and safe to use in classified settings. Apple’s phone scores similar marks, but the BlackBerry is the only device that has received the FIPS 140-2 certification required for governmental use.

Partly as a result of the certification, ICE has had a change of heart and will give BlackBerry another chance. The agency—while continuing its plans to move employees to the iPhone—plans to test the platform early next year.

The move comes after reports that the company is doing much better than initially expected at wooing developers with  the Blackberry 10. RIM seems so confident in its success, ZDnet reports, that the company has launched a “BlackBerry 10 Ready Program”—a trial period for the phone and the BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10 secure messaging service.

The company was pleased with the news about the turnabout at ICE.

“ICE has been a valued BlackBerry customer for years, and our commitment to government agencies has influenced the development of the BlackBerry 10 platform,” Scott Totzke, RIM’s senior vice president for BlackBerry security, said in a statement as reported by CNET.

Research in Motion has lost substantial market share to Google and Apple but is slowly seeing an uptick in stock prices. But the release of the BlackBerry 10 can also be seen as a last-ditch effort to rally consumers and get the BlackBerry on top of the smartphone pyramid once again.

By engaging one of their top, high-priority customers, the company is aiming to build a following—and, perhaps more important, loyalty.

Sound like a situation you’ve been in before with your members? Let us know what you think—about RIM’s business chances and their strategy—in the comments.

(Clarification: The agency will be using both the iPhone and BlackBerry devices, but is no longer exclusively moving to the iPhone, as previously reported. The article has been updated to reflect this.)

(Research in Motion)

Chloe Thompson

By Chloe Thompson

Chloe Thompson is a contributing writer to Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!