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US government agency ditches BlackBerry in favor of iPhone

research-in-motionMore woes for BlackBerry maker Research In Motion. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced this week that it would be handing out iPhones and iPads to its employees in May, replacing the BlackBerry devices currently used.

According to a Bloomberg report, the government agency, which carries out research into weather, oceans and fisheries, currently has about 3,000 of its 20,000 full-time workers and contractors using RIM devices. It’s not yet clear how many workers would be receiving Apple devices.

Speaking to Bloomberg, NOAA’s chief information officer Joe Klimavicz said that it would cost the agency less to securely integrate Apple devices into its information systems than RIM’s products.

“Times are changing and technology is changing and we have to look at our technologies and see how we can do things more efficiently,” he said. RIM will be dearly hoping other organizations that use its products won’t be having the same thoughts, though the switchover already appears to be part of a worrying trend for the Waterloo, Ontario-based company.

Only a few days ago oil giant Halliburton announced it would be turning its back on the BlackBerry in favor of the iPhone.

Credit Suisse, Barclays Capital and Standard Chartered are three other companies that have made moves towards the iPhone and Android devices at the expense of BlackBerry handsets.

The BlackBerry was once the phone of choice for business professionals, thanks in part to its popular native email system and effective security system.

But in recent years the mobile phone market has been turned on its head with the launch of Apple’s iPhone and smartphones running Google’s mobile operating system, Android, leaving RIM playing catch-up.

Last year was a particularly rotten one for the Canadian company, which included a four-day service outage in October and the postponement of the launch of its BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system, an OS which the company is hoping will turn its fortunes around. Last month the company installed a new CEO in an attempt to re-energize the company.

For Research In Motion, much rests on the launch of phones with the new operating system, which is expected to happen some time this year.

In the meantime, it needs to work on persuading businesses to stick with its products, though it looks like it has a tough battle on its hands.