NTSB drops 'unacceptable' BlackBerrys in favor of iPhones

Summary:Yet another U.S. government department is planning to ditch RIM in favor of alternatives, such as the iPhone, dubbing the BlackBerry platform "unacceptable."

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is the latest federal government agency to drop the BlackBerry smartphone in favor of alternatives, naming the iPhone as the prime contender, but didn't go about the move quietly.

In fact, the NTSB was more than vocal on its experience with the fruit-themed smartphones. 

According to a U.S. government procurement request -- following in similar steps to the U.S. Customs department , along with  the Pentagon , the U.S. ATF, and others -- the NTSB said the department would be looking "for the acquisition of Apple iPhone 4 devices," adding that the BlackBerry devices "have been failing both at inopportune times and at an unacceptable rate."

"Due to performance issues with the Blackberry devices, the NTSB desires to transition to a different device under Verizon’s device refresh program," the document noted.

The department -- which investigates travel incidents, such as air crashes and train accidents -- added that its planned move to replace BlackBerrys with iPhone 5 devices is part of moves to "standardize on a minimum number of operating platforms." The NTSB already uses iPad devices, for instance. 

"The NTSB requires effective, reliable and stable communication capabilities to carry-out its primary investigative mission and to ensure employee safety in remote locations," the procurement document added.

The NTSB is one of many government departments moving away from the platform as it is seen as increasingly unreliable, expensive, and inefficient compared to rivals. Despite it being the only platform compatible with the U.S. government requirements for security -- thanks to BlackBerry's secure back-end infrastructure for secure communications -- Apple's iPhone is increasingly making waves among various government units. 

According to CNN, an NTSB spokesperson declined to cite any specific examples of the platform and smartphone's pitfalls or failings, but a handful of outages have left some looking for alternatives to the Research in Motion-built smartphone range.

A RIM spokesperson said in a previous statement had "one million government customers" in North America, including Canada, where the firm is based.

Well, that's one million minus the NTSB's approximate 400 employees. 

Topics: BlackBerry, Government : US

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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