According to a recent Bloomberg report, two of the largest banks in the US – the Bank of America and Citibank are currently testing Apple's iPhone for corporate usage.
If this plan does end up being approved, we could be seeing over half a million employees of the two banks having the option to switch to an iPhone from their existing BlackBerry.
This would also mark a major shift in the way the iPhone would be perceived – considering it was always thought to be more of a consumer and media centric device – instead of something that you'd see in the hands of upwardly mobile professionals. That segment as you probably know, was traditionally dominated by the BlackBerry.
Of late however, Apple has been making steady inroads in to what was erstwhile BlackBerry territory. In the recent past Apple had boasted about its growing acceptance in the enterprise world with a host of Fortune 100 and Fortune 200 companies having deployed or being on the verge of deploying the iPhone and iPad for employees.
However, one industry where the iPhone was yet to make its presence felt was the banking sector – which thanks to its demands for extremely secure e-mail access was traditionally a BlackBerry playground.
While the deployment of iPhones for BOA and Citibank employees would be seen as a major fillip to Apple's Enterprise ambitions, Bloomberg also reports that both the banks are also considering Android devices for their employees. The idea here was to give corporate employees the option to choose a device of their choice. Bloomberg reports:
“People are delighted with their iPhones and Android phones and they want to use them for work,” said Roger Entner, head of telecom research at Nielsen Co. “The result is RIM now has real competition for corporate customers.” He also summed up his views on BlackBerry by saying, “RIM clearly has to defend its turf. Superb e-mail is no longer enough. RIM has to evolve.”
As of now, over 1000 employees in both companies are participating in a testing program, the results of which would determine the future of Android and iOS devices in the banking sector.
Do you think its time RIM stopped holding on to their corporate focus and “ease” up a bit and start making devices that appeal to everyone – and not just the traditional Blackberry Boys? Wait, they might have already started doing it if we are to go by this advertisement being flashed all over India.
But then, these ads would need to be complemented with better, sleeker and powerful handsets that can stand up to the multimedia, processing power and overall usability of competing platforms like iOS and Android. What do you think?