Ford switching employees to iPhones from BlackBerries

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TOKYO (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co. is deploying iPhones for corporate use to employees worldwide, scoring a win for Apple Inc. as it seeks to lure more corporate customers.

The automaker will replace Blackberry Ltd.’s smartphones with iPhones for about 3,300 workers by the end of this year, Sara Tatchio, a Ford spokeswoman, said today in an interview. About 6,000 employees will receive iPhones over the next two years, replacing flip phones, she said.

Ford is hiring a mobile technology analyst whose main focus will be to oversee the “global deployment of corporate iPhones,” the company said in an online job posting. 

Apple is pursuing a bigger slice of the corporate market for smartphone and tablet users and said this month it will work with IBM to create business software for iPhones and iPads. The pair put aside a three-decade-old rivalry in a move that helps Apple cater to an increasingly mobile workforce. The deal also helps IBM play catch-up to technology giants including Apple that were quicker to seize on a boom in mobile computing.

“We are going to get everyone on iPhones,” Tatchio said. “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.”

Having all employees on the same smartphone will improve security and simplify information technology management, Tatchio said. Ford is making “no extra investment” to convert to iPhones, other than the cost of replacing the devices, she said.

The switch to iPhones by Ford, which has about 181,000 employees worldwide, is a blow to BlackBerry, which has sought to turn around the company by prioritizing software-based services for corporations as its smartphone sales slump. 

Ford’s move away from Blackberry contrasts with its decision to use QNX in the next-generation version of its Sync in-car technology system. Ford chose to replace Microsoft Corp.’s system with QNX, people briefed on the matter said in February.

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