ICE

As if we needed yet another sign of RIM’s slipping status in the smartphone market — the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) has declared that it is leaving the BlackBerry platform for iOS.

According to ICE, which will purchase iPhones for 17,600+ employees for a bill totaling $2.1 million, it chose the iPhone for the same reason many tech fans criticize it — because of the tight controls over the hardware and OS.

Despite what you may have seen on TV or in the movies, government agencies don’t always rock the very latest in technology. (One visit to the DMV should testify to that.) And they’re often subject to budget cuts that can threaten their very ability to do their duties. So when an entire agency changes platforms like this, it’s a pretty bold move — and a big slap in the face to the handset maker.

Government and enterprise clients have always formed the backbone of RIM’s business, thanks to its rock-solid security chops, and even after other newer and splashier technologies started lapping the BlackBerry, many of these customers continued to rely on the platform — much to employees’ dismay. (It has started to become “a thing” for people to groan about packing both a personal Android or iPhone, plus a BlackBerry for work.) As time wore on — and workers complained — more organizations started looking into other solutions. Not shocking, since the BB innovations just couldn’t seem to keep pace with the smartphone market leaders.

It’s possible that could change in early 2013, however, as RIM is expected to release a new BB10 device. Some fans are holding out for this, hoping that whatever RIM has under wraps will reinvigorate (or reboot) the platform’s standing. And while it may not seem long to wait, it’s just too little, too late for the likes of ICE. And, it says, it could represent a bigger shift than it seems. Apparently the iPhone will be used by a “variety of agency personnel, including, but not limited to, Homeland Security Investigations, Enforcement and Removal Operations and Office of the Principal Legal Advisor employees.”

[Via Reuters]