Research In Motion Ltd. has lost another major enterprise customer, this time to Apple Inc., in another blow the BlackBerry maker’s corporate reputation.
Halliburton Co. became the latest major enterprise customer to abandon RIM on Tuesday in favour of Apple’s iPhone, the Canadian company’s largest rival. The Houston, Texas-based firm — among the largest energy services providers in the world – plans to replace about 4,500 company-issued BlackBerrys with iPhones within two years.
“Over the next year, we will begin expanding the use of our mobile technology by transitioning from the BlackBerry (RIM) platform that we currently use to smartphone technology via the iPhone,” reads an excerpt from an internal memo to Halliburton staff obtained by the AppleInsider blog.
Haliburton confirmed the transition to several media outlets on Tuesday, saying the move was being made “in order to better support our mobile applications initiatives.”
Waterloo, Ont.-based RIM has been losing ground to Apple and other devices based on Google Inc.’s Android platform for several quarters in the consumer market. RIM’s share of the United States smartphone market has plummeted from a high of 42.1% two years ago to just 16% by the end of 2011.
Among businesses, which have long served as company’s core customers, RIM has also been gradually falling out of favour. In November 2010, computer maker Dell Inc. ditched approximately 25,000 BlackBerry smartphones and issued employees with devices based on Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Phone 7 platform instead.
Apple has long used its quarterly earnings calls to publicize stats which highlight the company’s push into BlackBerry’s backyard. Between 60% and 80% of all Fortune 500 companies are considering supporting the iPhone on their corporate networks, according to the Cupertino, Calif.-based company.
That figure shot up to 91% in a recent survey by market research firm Gartner Inc., the results of which were published last September.
Still, although Apple continues to tout the number of companies that are “testing” the iPhone, how many of those companies are considering abandoning BlackBerry entirely remains unknown.
Two of the largest companies on that list, Bank of America and Citigroup, which together boast more than 500,000 staff, have been looking into switching from BlackBerry to iPhone for more than a year. That does not include the impact Apple’s iPad tablet is having on enterprise device sales.
Part of the reason for RIM’s waning enterprise dominance is that BlackBerry is no longer the only device major IT departments consider secure enough for corporate use.
Just last week, Google Inc.’s Android platform reportedly received approval for use by certain members of the United States military and government agencies and bring-your-own-device policies (BYOD) are becoming increasingly popular in the enterprise.
As RIM rushes to bring its highly anticipated BlackBerry 10 platform to market later this year, the company’s shareholders are undoubtedly hoping the “unstoppable BYOD train coming down the tracks” can be halted by the new software.
(Update 6:06 p.m. ET: RIM responded to a request for comment late Tuesday evening with the following statement)
“While we can’t speak on behalf of any one specific customer, it’s fair to say that RIM is working very closely with its enterprise customers around the world to upgrade their older BlackBerry devices to the new, much faster and more powerful BlackBerry 7 series of smartphones. As mentioned at today’s developer conference, we’re seeing over 6 million applications downloaded from BlackBerry App World each day with over 2 Billion downloads to-date. Over 90% of the Fortune 500 use BlackBerry today and RIM will continue to work closely with these customers to retain, grow and delight this important customer base.”