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Even the Security-Conscious US Federal Government is Dumping BlackBerries for iPhones

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The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency joins Yahoo and Halliburton in turning away from Research In Motion.

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Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone was also eliminated from consideration because of its weak market penetration, leaving Apple and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android phones as the sole viable options.

The iPhone eventually got the edge because the ICE had worries about the security of the open-source Android system. On the other hand, "Apple's strict control of the hardware platform and operating system, independent of telecommunication vendor, provides ICE with the greatest degree of control and management to ensure the most reliable delivery of services to ICE's mission users," the agency said.

The trend of even government agencies turning away from BlackBerries is surely worrying for RIM. "You're going to see this happen more and more," Ed Snyder, an analyst at Charter Equity Research, told Reuters. "They still have excellent security ... but if your handsets are a brick that no one wants to use, it's going to drag down your business."

Indeed, in the corporate enterprise market, RIM has also seen high-profile companies such as Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) dump the BlackBerry for their employees. Yahoo's change came from new CEO Marissa Mayer, who wanted her staff to project a less stuffy image, notes the Times.

On its part, RIM believes that its reputation of having an difficult-to-crack security system will ensure it always has supporters.

"RIM has a longstanding history of providing secure end-to-end mobile solutions for its customers. Security is built into every BlackBerry from the ground up. It is how we think, develop, engineer, and deploy our products and services," Jeff Holleran, director of Enterprise Product Management at RIM, told Minyanville in August. "RIM's customers have come to regard the BlackBerry solution as the gold standard for Enterprise mobility."

Even accounting for ICE's departure, RIM highlights that it still has one million government customers in North America. The company is, of course, counting on its much-delayed BlackBerry 10 to revive its fortunes.

"Of course, we are disappointed by this decision," RIM vice president of government solutions Paul Lucier said in an emailed statement, notes Reuters. "We are working hard to make our new mobile computing platform, BlackBerry 10, meets the future needs of government customers."

(See also: Can Research In Motion Stop the Apple and Google Onslaught in the Enterprise Arena?)

Twitter: @sterlingwong
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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