Ford announced on Tuesday that it was moving some 9,300 corporate employees from BlackBerry to iPhone. The move will be a blow to BlackBerry, which is trying to rebuild itself under the leadership of CEO John Chen. At the same time, it's another boost for Apple's enterprise ambition, which recently announced a mobile alliance with IBM.
Ford will move 3,300 employees to iPhone by the end of 2014, and it will move an additional 6,000 employees during the next two years. To go with all these iPhones, Ford is also hiring for an IT position dedicated to, "the global deployment of corporate iPhones," according to Bloomberg.
"We are going to get everyone on iPhones," a Ford spokesperson told Bloomberg. "It meets the overall needs of the employees because it is able to serve both our business needs in a secure way and the needs we have in our personal lives with a single device."
That's an interesting take for a major corporation—the company is focused on supplying one device that will meet both its own corporate needs and the personal needs of its employees. That's lightyears from the days when companies expected employees to carry two phones if they wanted one for their personal use.
This could well be the signs of a landmark shift in enterprise technology deployment. Ford is seeing the idea of satisfying the personal needs of its employees as an opportunity.
Interestingly, it's a concept that BlackBerry seems to be missing. In an email statement, the firm told Bloomberg:
While we can’t comment on this customer, we understand that there is diversity and choice in the market. Enterprises should think twice about relying on any solution built on the foundation of a consumer technology that lacks the proven security benefits that BlackBerry has always delivered.
Chastising one's customers for being too stupid to get the benefits you bring to market is seldom a winning strategy, but then I'm just a journalist. Either way, BlackBerry's reaction to losing Ford shouldn't come as a surprise when CEO John Chen dismissed the Apple/IBM alliance as, "two elephants dancing."
Keep telling yourself that, sir.
While I'm pointing fingers at corporate dingleberries, Dell also dismissed the Apple/IBM alliance. Dell's head of global software business, John Swainson, told Reuters:
I do not think that we take the Apple-IBM tie-up terribly seriously. I think it just made a good press release. I have some trouble understanding how IBM reps are going to really help Apple very much in terms of introducing devices into their accounts. I mean candidly, they weren't very good at doing it when it was IBM-logoed products, so I do not get how introducing Apple-logoed stuff is going to be much better.
Considering Dell's rich history of being wrong about Apple, you would think its executives would have learned to shut their mouths when it comes to offering advice to Apple or making pronouncements about Apple.
In any event, Ford is moving to iPhone for its corporate use. I wonder how this will affect Ford's reliance on Microsoft's Sync technology for its cars. Time will tell.
[Edit: As noted in the comments, Ford was already rumored to be dumping Microsoft Sync for—ironically—BlackBerry's QNX platform in its cars as far back as February. The company has yet to make an announcement on the subject. Ford also announced in June that it would support Apple's CarPlay technology for iPhone in 2015 models.]