Agencies may not go with 'Flow'


On Nov. 10, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion announced that (after multiple delays) BlackBerry 10 would debut Jan. 30, 2013.

It's been a tough year for RIM. Its stock has dropped more than 54 percent this year and recent solicitations and agency plans indicate BlackBerry is falling out of favor with federal agencies.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently announced it plans to ditch BlackBerrys in favor of iPhones, and the Health and Human Services Department's mobility strategy strongly favors iPhones over BlackBerry or Android devices.

As such, RIM is betting the farm on BlackBerry 10. For the first time, it was able to secure Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2 certification prior to a device's launch--checking one big box for agency acquisition managers.

It also hopes that BlackBerry 10's unique user experience called "BlackBerry Flow" will win over users. The design will reportedly let users peek at one program with the touch of a finger, while continuing to run another.

Flow provides an experience "unlike any smartphone on the market today," promises RIM Chief Executive Thorsten Heins.

Unfortunately, that could be a problem for RIM. Different isn't always better, especially in a federal environment increasingly favoring iOS devices. One analyst told Bloomberg the platform is dead on arrival.

"We expect the new OS to be met with a lukewarm response at best and ultimately likely to fail," James Faucett, a Pacific Crest analyst, told the publication.

Traditionally, government chief information officers have turned to BlackBerry for security and iOS for experience. Unless the new platform emulates some features and functions found in iOS, which government workers are increasingly drawn to, RIM could be out of luck. We'll have to wait and see what RIM serves up come Jan. 30. - Molly