Ford Ditching BlackBerry for iPhone for Global Corporate Use

| Analysis

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 and iPhone

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.]

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Lee Dronick

  I wonder how this will affect Ford’s reliance on Microsoft’s Sync technology for its cars. Time will tell.

Hopefully Ford will start using Apple CarPlay. In my experience the MicroSoft software isn’t too bad, but it isn’t great and it is a bit too clunky for some things.


Hmm, why didn’t Ford go with android phones? Fake ID, anyone? Anyone?

I love the Dell quote. Sounds like he is trying to convince himself. He does not think that they take it terribly seriously?!?!? He thinks it was just to just make a good press release?!?!? Stand behind your comments, dude. Like, “Dell does not take this IBM/Apple threat seriously. They are trying to make a good press release.”



The quote from the perennially erroneous maker of shoddy hardware, those fleet-footed competitors in the race to the bottom, those non-solicited purveyors of financial advice regarding stock shares, Dell, is the stuff of stand up comedy, nay self-parody. The quote exposes, in all of its flawed nakedness, its author’s ignorance of the distinction between IBM hawking their own hardware vs riding the tsunami that is Apple’s momentum into the enterprise space in mobile tech, let alone what the business proposition is here and how it has fundamentally altered the mindscape that is IT’s stranglehold over enterprise solutions. Unless, dare I even suggest it, that its author is being, how shall I put this, disingenuous.

Having IBM, that quintessentially enterprise centric concern, port their software solutions to iOS, is an endorsement of the future as seen by a company that retains huge cachet amongst corporate IT. This effectively takes the wind out of the sails of any other competitor’s attempts to displace iOS as the platform of choice for corporate mobile solutions, and cutting them adrift. Those IT wonks see it, understand it, and are now wrapping their brains around the new era. Dell knows that, as do all of Apple’s competitors. Unless they’re both pulseless and brain dead.

As for the quote from Blackberry’s Mr Chen, this merely reflects the state of the company, which should it be renamed to reflect the company’s future profitability, could be called ‘Red-berry’; or the mood of its senior execs, ‘Blue-berry’; although taking into account Mr Chen’s remark relative to his company’s performance, and with a nod to Aesop, could be restyled, ‘Sour-berry’. Two elephants dancing, indeed. A dangerous arena in which to be, if you’re that small furry thing underfoot, Blackberry. Time to leave.

Your closing quote, however, like Lee above, was my first thought on reading this piece. If I were a senior exec at MS, my blood would have run cold and my breakfast would have stuck in my craw upon reading in the morning paper that Ford is rolling out iPhones for its staff. If their own people are using iPhones, what of the future of MS’s in-auto solutions? At the very least, they are going to have to play nice with Apple’s iOS devices because that’s what the auto manufacturer and their team use. This is a game changer, even if Ford itself didn’t see it coming (I suspect they did).

This last bit could be a positive for MS, however, depending on how they respond. The two features one seldom hears in reference to MS software are ‘elegant’ and ‘intuitive’. One does hear that in relation to Apple’s products, routinely. In evolving their auto software to be more iOS-friendly, MS could use this opportunity to mould those attributes into their software, working with Apple not necessarily in partnership, but in consultation for the benefit of consumers.

This is yet another challenge, but more importantly, opportunity, for MS’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, to make his mark and steer his company into a bold new future.

I wish him success.

Bryan Chaffin

Another brilliant post, wab95.


The way Sync is today with respect to iOS belies its’ name. It won’t sync with or hold a sync with an iOS device in a reliable manner. CarPlay would be nice for iOS users; but that may not be good for Ford in meeting the needs of other mobile platform customers.

Lee Dronick

Will Ford take a cue from Apple and deliberatly slow down vehicles just before new models are released in the way that iPhones are deliberately slowed just before new phones are released?

I tried to post a link to the story, but the Yahoo News URL is blacklisted. This story is all over the TV news this morning and the talking heads are reporting it as fact.


I thought Ford already announced they were dumping Microsoft SYNC for (ironically) Blackberry’s system back in February? DId that get rescinded?

Bryan Chaffin

Good point, marcsten. For was rumored to be dropping Sync for QNX, but we haven’t had anything official announced. Ford is also supporting Apple’s CarPlay in 2015 models. I updated the article with notes to that effect.

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