BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) has lost a 25,000-user US government agency to rival Apple, according to US reports.
The chief information officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the agency is to switch from BlackBerry to Apple iOS by the middle of the year.
The NOAA is to end support for the BlackBerry on 12 May, according to a memo from Joe Klimavicz, NOAA's CIO and director for high-performance computing and communications.
He plans to replace BlackBerry handsets with the iPhone 4 and above and iPad 2 or above, with iOS 5 and higher.
The move bucks the trend for government agencies to stick with BlackBerry despite wider corporate adoption of iOS and Android devices, according to Australia’s ITNews.
Klimavicz noted that “times are changing” and that the agency needed to “see how we can do things more efficiently”.
NOAA permanent staff, contractors and associates that make up the 25,000 users are often required to work with environmental monitoring satellites and weather forecasting tools. They have a significant demand for mobile access to weather and climate data. Pundits say it is likely their data requirements have outgrown BlackBerry’s capabilities.
The NOAA's move to iOS follows oilfield service provider Halliburton's decision to switch 4,500 BlackBerry devices for iPhones, which are reportedly better tasked to support the company's internal applications.
In an attempt to fight back against this kind of attrition and halt falling sales, RIM is launching an aggressive campaign in Europe to retain customer share, according to the UK’s Mobile magazine.
The campaign, in which RIM will offer BlackBerry customers who trade in their old phones a cut-price upgrade, comes after a tough year for RIM.
RIM has been hit by prolonged server outages, software problems with its flagship smartphone the BlackBerry Bold 9900, and delays to its BlackBerry 10 operating system.
RIM is said to be in talks with retailers, operators and the dealer channel in preparation for the launch of the customer-retention campaign.