U.S. National Transportation Safety Board drops BlackBerry for iPhone

Last month, the U.S. Immigration and Customer Enforcement agency and government consultant Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. both announced plans to drop BlackBerry smartphones and deploy iPhones and Android devices instead. The Pentagon is also prepping to deploy Apple’s and Google’s platform.

The Defense Department is conducting search for a contractor that will build a system to manage and secure a fleet of 162,500 iPhones, iPads and Android devices. And now, rubbing salt into the wound, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board confirms it will be making the switch.

In a document posted last week to a federal website, the agency dissed BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, writing its devices have been “failing both at inopportune times and at an unacceptable rate”. Ouch!

What the agency requires are “effective, reliable and stable communication capabilities to carry out its primary investigative mission and to ensure employee safety in remote locations”.

It even publicly stated plans to switch to Apple’s iPhone 5.

Bloomberg explains:

The transportation board’s statement about the reliability of BlackBerry devices “creates additional headwinds” for RIM, said Sameet Kanade, an analyst at Northern Securities in Toronto who rates the company’s shares a hold.

It ain’t just bad press.

“Once customers start coming out in the open and saying they’re dissatisfied with the product, it’s very, very difficult” to gain traction with new customers, he said in a phone interview. “It’s very difficult for your brand to be relevant when you’re losing your base itself.”

Despite defections and the BlackBerry stigma, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins expects at least 400,000 government customers in North America to embrace BlackBerry 10 in a wave of device upgrades.

With BlackBerry 10 OS now essentially complete, first devices are expected early next year.