The hits just keep coming for the beleaguered makers of BlackBerry smartphones, Canadian tech company Research in Motion. After getting hammered financially in the last quarter due to declining sales, and failing to release BB10 until well after the holiday season, it now looks like RIM will be losing a big enterprise client: The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).
A report from Reuters indicates that the federal agency will be trading their old BlackBerrys in for iPhones, as the BlackBerry platform continues to age without receiving a major update. An acquisition order shows that the ICE will be buying 17600 iPhones, a purchase worth $2.1 million. That’s $2.1 million RIM won’t be getting, at a time when they could certainly use the money.
The launch of BB10, RIM’s new mobile platform for BlackBerry, is only a few months away now, but apparently that’s longer than the ICE was willing to wait. In their order for new iPhones, they said that the current stock of BlackBerrys ”can no longer meet the mobile technology needs of the agency.”
Given BlackBerry’s traditional strengths, which have mostly revolved around security, email and other features that are important to enterprise customers, this is a big hit for RIM to take. If they can’t remain successful among enterprise customers, who have been their strongest supporters for several years, their future looks grim indeed.
We’ll have to wait and see how BB10 does when it finally makes it out the door, though. The success of that platform, and the new hardware that will accompany it, will likely make or break the ailing Canadian smartphone maker.