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Research In Motion has long prided itself on the security of its mobile platform and smartphones, but now the U.S. General Services Administration is allowing 12,635 government workers to choose an iPhone or Android-powered device instead of a BlackBerry. According to Bloomberg, the GSA spends more than $70 billion purchasing goods for federal agencies each year.

Typically, the GSA has purchased and issued BlackBerry smartphones but the new choice to allow some government workers to carry an alternative mobile device will certainly have an adverse effect on RIM's smartphone sales. At least one analyst thinks the GSA's move could inspire other federal agencies to allow their employees to carry iOS or Android powered devices, too. "It's the canary in the coal mine because now every government body or institution can follow suit," Recon Analytics LLC analyst Roger Entner told Bloomberg.

Bloomberg also reiterated a statement last week from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration in which the administration said it will issue iPhones to its 13,000 employees in May and replacing existing BlackBerry smartphones. The agency's chief information officer Joe Kilmavicz said the move is cheaper than continuing to use a BlackBerry server provided by RIM.

RIM, however, said that it still provides devices to more than 1 million government customers. The Waterloo, Canada-based company also said that its BlackBerry PlayBook is the only tablet that has earned certification from the National Institute of Standards and Technology for use by government employees, although we suspect if Android and iOS are now being issued in some departments that other tablets will soon gain the same certification.

[via Bloomberg]