US government considers Blackberry alternatives

Troubled BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has had some bad news in the post this morning. The U.S. federal government’s main procurement agency is issuing iPhones and Android-based devices to some of its 17,000 workers.

The General Services Administration’s purchasing decisions are used as a blueprint for other agencies, so it might mean that Blackberry will be pushed out of US government departments in the long term.

The GSA’s chief information officer Casey Coleman told Reuters that the department tries to be progressive in its adoption of new technologies.

RIM was once Washington’s only option for secure mobile communication, but rival devices have started to match the Blackberry’s security.

The GSA manages $500 billion of government assets including telecoms, information technology and real estate.

Coleman said that BlackBerry was the most used smartphone at GSA, with devices from Apple and those using Google’s Android software accounting for less than 5 percent of the agency’s system.

The GSA has no plans to abandon RIM servers, which manage secure Blackberry traffic, for now.