A View from David Zax
Apple Woos the Government
While BlackBerry gets the boot.
That Apple products are beloved by consumers is well known. Recently, I wrote about how Apple was also making inroads into businesses. This week brings news that the Apple is increasingly winning over another sector entirely: the U.S. government.
NYT Bits reports (citing The Loop) that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is throwing their BlackBerrys overboard, opting for Apple products instead. Though NOAA already put some 3,000 BlackBerry devices in circulation among its 20,000 workers, it will only be supporting the devices until May 12. NOAA CIO Joe Klimavicz cited the cost of Research in Motion’s software as the chief reason for the switch.
Klimavicz told the Times that he considered switching the agency over to Android devices, but that ultimately the uniformity iOS won him over. Google hasn’t been totally shafted by the agency, though; it uses Google Apps for Government to manage its email, calendars, docs, and so on. (Though it’s not a government agency–quite–Halliburton this week also jilted BlackBerry in favor of the iPhone. )
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that apple might soon be fielding another huge government contract soon: The U.S. Air Force is considering buying up to 18,000 iPad 2s for its flight crews. A notice posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website cited an interest in buying up to that number of “iPad 2, Brand Name or Equal devices.” An Air Force spokeswoman said that the tablets would help cut down on manuals that can together weigh up to 40 pounds. (Commercial airlines, incidentally, are ahead of the Air Force on this.) An RIM spokesperson said that “[t]he BlackBerry PlayBook remains the only tablet certified for use by U.S. government agencies”–but it’s unclear how long that will remain the case, given the Air Force’s apparent interest in iPads.
In many ways, Apple and Washington make for a good match. There was that feisty Obama/Jobs encounter. Apple has a special store with special prices for government agencies and employees. And it would be a marriage between financial peers: this summer found the U.S. treasury and Apple with about the same amount of cash in the bank, around $75 billion each.