JAMES W. MANNING July 17, 2012
Making the change ... Qantas will switch its employees' mobiles from BlackBerry to iPhone. Photo: Jessica Shapiro
In yet another blow to ailing handset maker Research in Motion (RIM), Qantas will replace 1300 BlackBerry phones used by employees with iPhones.
The switch was made after the majority of respondents to a recent staff survey indicated their preference for Apple's device over the increasingly unpopular BlackBerry.
"The iPhone offers a user-friendly interface and simple access to emails, contacts and calendars, as well as meeting all Qantas' security requirements," a Qantas spokesman told Fairfax Media, the publisher of this article.
Qantas said the move to iPhone could save the company millions of dollars due to better carrier arrangements for mobile data from both Telstra and Optus, as well as simplified support infrastructure.
"Transition from the BlackBerry to the iPhone is part of Qantas' broader mobility strategy and, once complete, will result in significant cost savings," said the spokesman.
Android devices will also be supported by the company under a bring-your-own-device policy.
The move continues a worrying trend for RIM, whose stock has slumped more than 70 per cent in the past year. The company announced last month it aims to save $US1 billion in operating costs, with roughly 30 per cent of those coming from job cuts.
RIM is also hemorrhaging clients, with the departure of IBM and Dell earlier this year, and has been forced to postpone the release of the BlackBerry 10 operating system until next year. Last week a federal jury in the US found RIM liable for $US147.2 million in damages for infringing on patents held by Mformation Technologies.
A spokeswoman for RIM Australia said that the company remains committed to the Australian business market. "No one has a better track record of securely managing mobile devices in the workplace than RIM," she said. "Our infrastructure is trusted by some of the most security conscious organisations in the world – including the Australian government."
In response to the downward trend, RIM Australia's managing director Ray Gillenwater stepped down last week after less than three months in charge. He will be replaced by former marketing director Matthew Ball.
But several organisations in Australia and around the world continue to rely on BlackBerry, including major banks Westpac, NAB, CBA and some government departments.
This is not the first time that Qantas has favoured Apple products, announcing only last week that it will partner with Telstra to roll out 2200 64GB iPads for its pilots. The tablets, which will be implemented from September this year, will save in-flight weight restrictions and paper resources taken up by documentation and manuals.
In February, Qantas announced 'Q streaming', whereby entertainment can be streamed wirelessly to iPads in passengers' seats.