ATF second federal agency to ditch BlackBerrys for iPhones

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The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is set to move from the ailing BlackBerry platform to the iPhone, making it the second federal agency to choose Apple over RIM.

ATF Chief Information Officer Rick Holgate said on Tuesday that the switch will include the swapping out of 3,800 BlackBerry handsets with replacements devices, over 60 percent of which will be iPhones, reports website Politico.

"We're going to delete the BlackBerry from the mix," Holgate said, adding that the change will be completed within a one year time frame.

Around 2,400 special agents will start receiving their iPhones as early as March, and the ATF is actively preparing its mobile device infrastructure by readying licenses and software to accommodate the rollout.

The remaining 1,400 BlackBerry units will be replaced by other undisclosed devices.

Holgate cites device functionality as the main factor in shifting away from BlackBerry, noting that while a variety of features like video streaming, GPS capability and a camera exist on the BlackBerry platform, the ease of use and adaptability of the iPhone makes a "more functional and compelling case."

“The government has been very comfortable with the BlackBerry model for 10 years,” he said. “Now we're looking to move beyond that.”

The ATF's decision continues the trend of government agencies moving away from BlackBerry to Apple offerings.

Earlier in February, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that it would make the jump to iPhone, and added that it plans to supply workers with iPads at a later date.