BlackBerry Use Inside the Beltway Notches Down [Updated]
Research In Motion’s BlackBerry, once the undisputed leader inside the Beltway, is losing traction in the halls of power. And according to a new survey, it’s Apple’s iPhone that is gaining favor among Capitol Hill staffers.
While the BlackBerry remains the dominant smartphone in Washington, its lead is fast deteriorating. The National Journal recently polled 1,225 Capitol Hill staffers, private-sector employees and federal executives, and found their allegiance to the device wavering.
Among Capitol Hill staffers, 77 percent said they own BlackBerrys, down from 93 percent in 2009 — an ugly 16 percent drop. Among private-sector employees, the decline over the same time period was even more pronounced — to 50 percent from 76 percent. There was a similarly precipitous drop among federal executives. In 2009, 76 percent said they owned a BlackBerry; today, just 57 percent say they do.
The most alarming metric of all: No more than 1 percent of any of those groups said they were interested in purchasing a new BlackBerry.
So what are they looking to buy?
The National Journal’s survey (which evidently allowed for respondents to have multiple devices) found 41 percent of Capitol Hill staffers to have an iPhone, as well as 42 percent of private-sector workers and 27 percent of federal executives. In 2009, those percentages were quite a bit lower: 13 percent, 15 percent and 9 percent. Clearly, the market is beginning to move on.
Reached for comment, a RIM spokesperson said the company’s foothold in Washington remains strong.
“The mobile sector is very competitive with many new consumer offerings,” the spokesperson said. “However in an era of real cyber security threats and attacks, BlackBerry continues to offer unmatched security, reliability and value for government agencies concerned about securing and protecting sensitive government information. Today, that includes over one million government customers in North America alone. In many instances government workers are using BlackBerry handsets that are years old and we are working with agencies to upgrade their devices in order to provide significantly greater functionality and speed. We have also introduced BlackBerry Balance that enables government IT departments and government workers the ability to safely manage the balance between sensitive government data and personal data. In addition, while we believe a pure BlackBerry deployment is the most secure and reliable solution, we are also giving government IT departments and government workers the ability to manage a mixture of devices in a secure and manageable fashion through BlackBerry Mobile Fusion.”