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NTSB Dumps BlackBerry In Favor of iPhone 5 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the kicking-them-when-they're-down dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) plans on replacing its existing stock of BlackBerry devices with Apple's iPhone 5. Research In Motion's BlackBerry smartphones, the government entity wrote in a Nov. 13 notice of intent, 'have been failing both at inopportune times and at an unacceptable rate.' The NTSB's use of iPads means it has the operational support for iOS; consequently, the decision was made to go with Apple. 'The iPhone 5 has been determined to be the only device that meets the dual requirement of availability from the existing wireless vendor and is currently supportable by existing staff resources,' the notice added. RIM is fighting to retain the government and enterprise contracts that originally made it such a mobile powerhouse. If agencies and boards such as the NTSB begin to embrace alternative platforms, however, that could critically weaken RIM's business model just as the company attempts a comeback behind the upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform."
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NTSB Dumps BlackBerry In Favor of iPhone 5

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  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:33PM (#42058921)
    I just watched a demo of the new BB OS and it looked pretty good. I have had two concerns about their new phone the first being the touch screen for typing; with this it looks like they have a pretty innovative way of quickly typing. The second was that IT departments can and regularly cripple the phone. You have people walking around with a pretty good smartphone that was turned into a lump of crap by the IT department. No twitter, facebook, and even sometimes web surfing. So in the new OS they have created two modes of use business and personal. The guy specified that you could then cripple the business mode and free up the personal mode.

    These sound great and if the screen typing works as well as the demo it could be a game ruiner for touch screen phones without it; but I doubt it. If I were a company and I invented this technology I would sell it to one of the players with real cash. Second I suspect that this personal mode itself can be turned off. There is a reason that corporate types have been given free BB phones and then they go out and buy themselves a $700 iPhone with their own money and that is that IT can ruin iPhones. This also causes corporate types to rebel against IT and simply insist that the company switch to the iPhone. It is not a matter of which is better but which can't be crippled.

    So I think that the BB should have eliminated the ability of IT departments to treat their users like infants (CEOs & CFOs included) and they should have kept their awesome keyboards. Basically they should have eliminated a weakness and played on a strength. Lastly many BB users are older and all the cool whiz bang that I saw in the demo will result in the whole old dog new tricks problem.
    • The guy specified that you could then cripple the business mode and free up the personal mode.

      You can do this on both iOS and Android if you're using a decent MDM solution, which is no different from if you are using BlackBerry and BES, except you can do it today rather than at some time in the future.

    • I the above I meant to say IT Can't ruin iPhones.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:19PM (#42059455)

      As an IT administratator all I can say is your attitude is poor. Why does the average worker need access to facebook and twitter? they are paid to work not to slack of tweeting and updating profiles.

      Workers seem to foget that a top priority of any IT department is to prevent unauthorised access or leaking of corporate data and not make the end use happy by giving them shinny toy X or Y, though it is nice to get some well manged and supportable hardware to the users.

      Lastly, Apple probably have one of the better out of the box solutions to manage their smart phones or "cripple them'' as you like to call it.

      • by s73v3r (963317)

        they are paid to work not to slack of tweeting and updating profiles.

        Said the guy posting on Slashdot.

      • by kuhnto (1904624)
        While I understand the need for corporate security, I find that as more and more IT rules are pushed down onto my BB, I am becoming less and less likely to keep using it. Unfortunately there are no metrics to calculate the loss of productivity and thus revenue due to employees turning in the POS, crippled BB's and returning to the real world of portable communications. What are the real costs? 1. The possibility of Data lost from my phone? 2. Me only answering emails between the hours of 8am and 5pm, 365
      • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @06:28PM (#42060861) Homepage Journal

        As an IT administratator all I can say is your attitude is poor. Why does the average worker need access to facebook and twitter? they are paid to work not to slack of tweeting and updating profiles.

        As the guy who eats lunch with your boss, all I can say is your attitude is poor. The company wants me to carry a phone so they can contact me in an emergency, but they don't want me to enjoy any part of the experience of having the damn thing glued to my hip? No thanks. If you give me a locked-down brick around with me, expect to find it in my desk drawer as I head home for the night.

        If I have to have a leash, then it's going to be a fun leash with Angry Birds, Facebook, Twitter, and a decent web browser. Most IT staff seem to get that. If your company culture lets you get away with that attitude, then I think I can explain your higher than average attrition rates.

        Just stop right there. You were going to say "but I'm CTO of a Fortune 500 company and we're growing like crazy LOL!" weren't you. No, you're not. You're a powertripping junior staffer at a small company. Big companies who value being able to hire and retain employees understand these kinds of basics. The others? We make fun of them here when their horror stories inevitably leak to the press.

        • by clifyt (11768)

          Back in the day, I bought the Palm phones for everyone in my office and NO ONE carried them around. They were locked down, to the bosses order, and when ever the was an emergency, no one answered. Had to call their land lines. Most of the time if we called someone out of the office, their desk would ring.

          So one day I decided fuck that...my boss is clueless, so I asked everyone to bring in their phones...I had an assortment of free games and would install them on their phone. Solitare, mine sweeper (it w

      • Why does the average worker need access to facebook and twitter? they are paid to work not to slack of tweeting and updating profiles.

        Maybe because when you give your employees a bit of freedom, they don't feel like they're working under a fascist regime and are therefore happier to be at work and become more productive.

      • As an IT administratator all I can say is your attitude is poor. Why does the average worker need access to facebook and twitter?

        As an IT administratator it's your *job* to execute the policy of management, and if that includes Facebook and Twitter access, suck it up and do your job.

        Workers seem to foget that a top priority of any IT department is to prevent unauthorised access or leaking of corporate data and not make the end use happy by giving them shinny toy X or Y

        Bullshit. First, check your spelling. Second, yes, network security is *PART* of your job. The *OTHER PART* is to jump to the whims of your boss, and if your boss wants Facebook, than thatâ(TM)s your job.
        Please stop being the stereotypical asshat Prima Donna admin and realize that you work for management and part of your job is customer service.

      • This is the exact attitude that causes the average employee to loath their IT department and why people outsource huge amounts of their IT in order to end-run the IT people. The top priority of IT is to provide and maintain the tools that employees need. Security should come under the guise of maintain; as in an infected computer is a poorly maintained computer. Where most IT departments have gone off the rails is that they think that they have a magical right to say no to top decision makers within a compa
      • by Kjella (173770)

        As an IT administratator all I can say is your attitude is poor. Why does the average worker need access to facebook and twitter? they are paid to work not to slack of tweeting and updating profiles.

        By all means, any employer that wants to evict all elements of private life from work hours I'll happily return the favor and evict all work from private hours. Coming in Monday morning, nope I haven't even looked at my mail since Friday afternoon. Phone? Sorry, I was at my remote cabin/scuba diving/meditating the whole weekend and couldn't be reached. A previous job gave me an iPhone, it was useful and fun and not very locked down so I used it as my primary phone. The current job I heard the policy is that

      • by geoskd (321194)

        As an IT administrator all I can say is your attitude is poor. Why does the average worker need access to facebook and twitter? they are paid to work not to slack of tweeting and updating profiles.

        That guy you just accused of having a poor attitude is your boss's boss. You don't have the right to tell him what he can and cant do with his corporate account. Your job Is to harden the system so that the things he feels the need to do with his equipment does not damage the company.

        Too many IT people forget their place in the company. They are not corporate officers, and have no right to dictate company policies. They can make recommendations to the governing bodies, but making IT policy is *not* the IT

  • Single Supplier (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by Nerdfest (867930)

    A government agency going to a proprietary, single supplier solution where an open, multi-supplier solution is available should not be legal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by brucek2 (208676)

      Unless there's a big software development project on top of iOS involved, I don't see where the "single-supplier" risk is.

      If what NTSB needs is a modern smart phone, they have multiple suppliers to choose from today, and are proving that point by potentially switching from one brand to another. Presumably all these phones can make and receive phone calls between brands; make and receive text messages, emails, etc. NTSB can mix and match between suppliers at any time unless they enter into deal terms that

      • by shmlco (594907)

        I think I read elsewhere that this fits in with their existing infrastructure. They have a lot of iPads, apps, and they already have the back-end systems needed to manage iOS devices.

      • by DrXym (126579)
        I suppose if it starts and ends with procuring a phone then it doesn't matter what they choose providing it meets their needs. If they start developing actual native apps to run on the phone then there is serious cause for concern.
    • by alen (225700)

      AOSP might be sort of open, but Android phones are not open

      android phones are part of the OHA and Google dictates what kind of phone you can make if you're part of the Open Handset Alliance

    • A government agency going to a proprietary, single supplier solution where an open, multi-supplier solution is available should not be legal.

      Open? Multi-supplier? Android handset makers basically take Google's product, put on some crapware and call it a day. I would hardly call that diversity. Also consider that Apple tends to support their hardware longer with updates than Android makers who force you to buy a new model if you want an update to Android.

      • Why do iOS users need to update their phone so often? Is it because Apple locked them down so hard in the first place that the only way to get those features is to update their OS?
        • You're going to defend Android typically abandoning users after maybe one OS update, if that?

          There are man reasons to roll out updates that have nothing to do with "iOS is locked down LoL".

          API updates, security updates, new OS features. And a once a year, free update to devices up to 3 years old is being much kinder than the competition.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      A government agency going to a proprietary, single supplier solution where an open, multi-supplier solution is available should not be legal.

      You mean going from don't you? Unless BlackBerry is entirely open source and multivendor ... but its not, so this is really no different.

      Second, there is no 'open source' Android phone. They all have plenty of proprietary technology in them, some have it in a software sense, they all have it in the hardware however.

      Third, they're proving they have no problem jumping to another vendor. They can jump to another vendor later just as easy.

      The idealogical solution you pretend exists does not in fact exist. G

  • Camera (Score:4, Informative)

    by RobertNotBob (597987) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:41PM (#42059031)
    If Apple, or any ANDROID manufacturer would just make a modern phone without a camera, the DoD (at the very least) would drop blackberry like a red-hot potato. RIM would be finished faster that you could turn around.

    It's a shame that NOBODY in those companies has figured that out yet.

    • by Zenin (266666)

      I can't imagine that's a serious concern.

      In bulk, it would literally take 3 seconds of time on a drill press to absolutely and forever disable the camera on any smart phone without affecting anything else.

      A simple jig to align the phone on the press, a depth stop set to drill through the lens and if you're really concerned the sensor chip, but no deeper. Trivial, cheap, absolute.

    • Re:Camera (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tilante (2547392) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:42PM (#42059699)

      I think they've figured that out - they just don't care. The DoD isn't really that big.

      Consider: the DoD, by their own claims, has about 3 million employees worldwide.

      So far this year, Apple has sold over 120 million iPhones.

      Thus, even if the DoD bought an iPhone for every one of their employees, that would only increase Apple's sales figures by 2.5%. Is that worth the expense of creating another phone model, manufacturing it, and then keeping it in manufacture?

      Before you answer that, consider this: what percentage of those DoD employees actually work in a position where they're not allowed to bring in a phone with a camera? Of those in such positions, how many of them actually work in a place where that requirement is enforced? From my own experience, only the most secure facilities actually try to keep out cell phone cameras - many facilities that in theory don't allow them in do allow them in practice.

      My guess would be that a high estimate would be 20% - which would then have Apple creating another model and manufacturing it for a potential 0.5% increase in sales - but that's assuming that everyone in the DoD who potentially needs such a phone gets one, and that they all get one in the course of one year. If, say, the DoD were to follow a more normal course and buy them over the course of three years or so, that comes an increase of less than 0.2%.

      The simple fact is, the market that 'needs' a lack of a camera is tiny.

    • by s73v3r (963317)

      It's likely not that they haven't figured it out. It's that they know the market for that device would be extremely small and limited, and likely wouldn't be worth going after.

  • Not ruggedized. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:46PM (#42059075) Homepage

    I'm surprised the NTSB wanted something as fragile as an iPhone. I would have expected them to go for something that had a ruggedized, waterproof model in the product family.

    Rugged smartphones have been around for a while, but in 2012, they got bigger screens and current electronics. The Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro, the Honeywell Dolphin 70e, the rather bulky Caterpillar B10 Smartphone, and the thin Nautiz X1 all meet basic military ruggedization standards while running reasonably current Android versions.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ... NTSB...

      ...blah blah android rubbish ... all meet basic military ruggedization standards while running OLD Android versions.

      Here - fixed this for you. And here's a hint - the NTSB is not the military.

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        There's very little even the oldest Android phones cannot do. Most of the OS improvements just replace stuff that was already available through software.

        • by BitZtream (692029)

          Even the newest Android devices can't seem to provide a lag free interface, that alone makes your statement silly.

    • Re:Not ruggedized. (Score:5, Informative)

      by alen (225700) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:20PM (#42059469)

      chances are the the NTSB uses MS Exchange and iOS has the best MS Exchange client

      never used Samsung but i've used HTC and Moto and the iOS email app is better than those. and with iOS 6 there are some nice features like VIP folders

      you can talk specs and rugged all you want but in usability iOS wins

      • by g00head (1433713)
        Touchdown gives any Adroid phone FULL Exchange functionality (GAL lookup, create meetings with attendee invites, etc.) And no BES/RiM hiccups or hurdles between Exchange and the phone.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ImprovOmega (744717)
        That, and you can programatically set up the native iOS e-mail application vs. Android that makes you either purchase a third party app (Touchdown is especially popular, and $20) or manually configure the native e-mail app. Samsung is attempting to fix this with the enterprise initiative codenamed S.A.F.E. but unfortunately that will only fix the issue for late-model Samsung devices.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Put a decent case on it, and it's unlikely to be a problem.

    • by g00head (1433713)

      I'm surprised the NTSB wanted something as fragile as an iPhone. I would have expected them to go for something that had a ruggedized, waterproof model in the product family.

      Rugged smartphones have been around for a while, but in 2012, they got bigger screens and current electronics. The Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro, the Honeywell Dolphin 70e, the rather bulky Caterpillar B10 Smartphone, and the thin Nautiz X1 all meet basic military ruggedization standards while running reasonably current Android versions.

      The Otterbox Defender case series is practically rugged-ized, however it makes the phone the size of a small brick

  • by mark_reh (2015546) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:51PM (#42059149) Journal

    Board might want/need to have phones with a reliable mapping application.

  • by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:53PM (#42059163) Homepage Journal

    According to CNet, the DOD is also moving away from RIM:

    To add insult to injury, the U.S. Department of Defense also announced last month that it was ending its exclusive contract with the company and opening up bidding to other device makers, including Apple and Google.

    That is a *much* bigger deal, because the NTSB is actually a very small government agency (only around 400 employees). DOD could involve an order of magnitude more devices than the NTSB.

    • by narcc (412956)

      By "moving away from RIM" I assume you mean "considering including alternatives in addition to RIM". "Announced intent" is different from "switched over".

      Why I doubt it'll actually happen: Despite announcing that they were seeking this three years ago, iOS STILL lacks FIPS certification (FIPS-140-2 is a pipe dream for iOS at this point. BB10 isn't even out yet and it's already been certified).

      So we'll see how this works out for iOS. It doesn't look like they can get their products certified for use in

  • Find a carrier that will allow them to sell Smart Phones without a data plan required. I liked the BB flip phone, I thought it was a great idea but didn't think it was worth paying the extra money for a data plan. Lets face it, if you're going to pay $30 extra a month for data, you want a phone that will make most use of it. Alternatively, RIM could just join forced with Android and still make their uniquely designed phones around an OS with much greater support. Just my 2 cents.
    • I had the BB flip phone. Yea it was actually pretty cool, but I couldn't resist getting a killer deal on a GS3. The GS3 is such a blast, rooted and Cyangogen.
  • So what is the MTBF of a BlsckBerry v. an iPhone 5, and where do these numbers come from?

    Always be suspicious when governments use statistics to justify anything.

    • Re:The figures? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by whoever57 (658626) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:57PM (#42059861) Journal

      So what is the MTBF of a BlsckBerry v. an iPhone 5, and where do these numbers come from? Always be suspicious when governments use statistics to justify anything.

      Blackberry phones are physically far more robust than iPhones.

      If the reliability claims are not pure BS justification to get a more "shiny" phone, it's possible that the problems are with BES rather than the phone itself.

      • BlackBerry allows fine granularity in managing devices, and covers much more than just email accounts. Is that even possible with an iPhone? Is it possible to do a like-for-like comparison?

        Also, if their BES is failing, wouldn't that be the NTSB's own hardware? The BES software will be running on NTSB hardware for security reasons won't it?

        It all sounds like BS by someone who wants a shiny new iPhone 5 free from the government. But that's now how government contracts are supposed to be awarded....

        • by narcc (412956)

          No, RIM offers the most comprehensive set of MDM features of any smartphone or MDM product vendor.

      • Having seen a household of USB plugs break from the BB's mainboard, and heard more of the same, I think this company may get suckered on a real simple bit of engineering. The spring loaded hooks on the charging cable basically rip the short micro-usb plug off when removing the cable in normal use.

        I was surprisingly impressed with some of the innovative and modular internal construction tho, shame they can't seem to keep their house in order.
  • by neilo_1701D (2765337) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:57PM (#42059849)
    Just over a week ago, we all got an email from Corporate Mobility saying that the Blackberry was being phased out in favour of the iPhone 5. They started popping up around the place a few days ago. Fujitsu made some sort of arrangement with Telstra regarding data plans, too. It amazes me just how fast the stranglehold BB had has unraveled...
  • After all, it's the NTSB. It's their job to analyze and try to prevent train wrecks.
  • How (Score:5, Interesting)

    by prelelat (201821) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @05:18PM (#42060033)

    Can someone explain to me how these organizations manage to manage all of these apple devices? I mean with BB enterprise you can push and pull apps, wipe the phone and all kinds of stuff remotely.

    In the classroom(I do IT for schools) with a microsoft tablet I can join it to the domain and set policies. once again I can push out applications and everything like a normal windows computer. The functionality on the IT department means that they are much easier to manage in both cases. It's gotten to the point that my department will refuse to configure 100+ ipads for a school because doing things like maintaining apps is an impossible waste of time. How are these large organizations doing it? How are they managing security with encryption? Is this safe?

    If you know I would like to know how because I would love to present it to the other staff.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Everything you listed except app deployment can be handled via Exchange ActiveSync, if you are using Exchange of course. App deployment can be handled via the iPhone Configuration Utility. And, of course, every iPhone since the 4 (and AFAIK all iPad versions) has included hardware AES-256 encryption.

    • Re:How (Score:5, Informative)

      by ImprovOmega (744717) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @06:28PM (#42060855)
      There are many solutions for it. SAP/Sybase Afaria, Fiberlink MaaS 360, Centrify, Symantec Mobile Device Management, Good Technology, and many, many others will do all of the app management/device management/whatever you need. Most of them have at least feature parity with BES and some that I've looked at go above and beyond. It all depends on what exactly your needs are. Rest assured there's a solution out there somewhere that feels custom tailored to your unique situation.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BitZtream (692029)

      And guess what ... you can do the same thing on an iPhone. Its not 2007 anymore.

      Your departments IT staff sucks ass, if that means you, sorry. You're ignorant and can't be bothered to resolve that issue with a quick couple of Google searches.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Of course you can push/pull apps, and remotely wipe iOS devices in an enterprise environment.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      http://www.apple.com/support/iphone/enterprise/

  • We just switched off of our dozen or so blackberries at my company, almost entirely because of their terrible server software that has horrible memory leaks. We demoed an iPhone at the owner's request (ugh) and it was a disaster. Even the cell phone company mentioned that it was a terrible idea for us because it was too fragile for our workers in the field. It was also ungodly overpriced like all Apple products which is why they have absolutely no place in a business environment. We went with Android.
    • by ImprovOmega (744717) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @06:33PM (#42060911)
      Depends on what you're using it for. Accident investigation is hardly the kind of job that requires a rugged phone. I mean, I wouldn't give an iPhone to a construction worker or to someone doing any real physically strenuous job, but accident investigation is much more about forensically analyzing a wreck, not the dangerous and rough parts during or immediately following one, such as the crash itself, first responders, search and rescue. It's incredibly important work, but it's hardly inappropriate for a "fragile" phone like the iPhone.
  • RIMM nor AAPL here are the story.

    NTSB decided they're corporates not enterprise. Its as simple as...BBM, encryption and BES no longer serve a useful purpose to their mission.

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