Australia's Qantas dumps Blackberry in Apple push

July 19, 2012 by Amy Coopes
This file photo shows Qantas pilots arriving for work at Sydney Airport, in 2011. Flagship Australian airline said on Thursday it was ditching the BlackBerry for Apple's iPhone after strong demand from staff, deepening woes for troubled Canadian maker Research in Motion.

Flagship Australian airline Qantas said Thursday it was ditching BlackBerry for Apple's iPhone and rolling out in-flight iPad entertainment streaming, dealing a blow to the US firm's rivals.

Qantas said it was switching 1,300 employee phones from Canada-based Research in Motion's BlackBerry to the popular Apple device after a "large majority" of workers expressed a preference for the iPhone.

"Transition from the BlackBerry to the iPhone is part of Qantas' broader mobility strategy and, once complete, will result in significant cost savings," a Qantas spokeswoman told AFP.

Analysts said it was a fatal blow for RIM and would likely trigger "significantly more defections" from the outdated BlackBerry maker, which is struggling to remain relevant against its fast-evolving rivals.

"It's very significant on the level of credibility and their reputation," said telecoms analyst Paul Budde, referring to RIM, which now holds just 0.1 percent of Australia's smartphone market.

"Seeing large blue-chip companies such as Qantas dumping BlackBerry will only confirm to others who are on BlackBerry that they're a dead-end street."

Qantas is rolling out live iPad streaming of in-flight entertainment on its domestic Boeing 767 fleet following a successful trial of the "QStreaming" technology, developed with Panasonic.

The Qantas mobile switch is part of a wider push onto the Apple platform, which will also see the airline's pilots given iPads to replace paper charts, flight plans and manuals, mirroring moves by US carriers.

Qantas is also rolling out live iPad streaming of in-flight entertainment on its domestic Boeing 767 fleet following a successful trial of the "QStreaming" technology, developed with Panasonic.

Passengers will be provided with iPads to access the in-flight system that are locked to the Qantas network, but the airline is working on making QStreaming available to passengers' own devices down the track.

American Airlines has launched a similar programme with Samsung's Galaxy tablet for first and business class domestic passengers, but content is pre-loaded rather than streamed direct.

Replacing bulky seat-back entertainment systems and paper manuals with tablets is expected to deliver important energy efficiencies -- a key target for airlines as fuel prices skyrocket and governments move to reduce pollution.

Budde said the Qantas shift affirmed Apple's foothold in the sector at the expense of smaller players such as Nokia and RIM.

"The world has moved on, it's now all around the iPhone and the Android platforms," he said.

"I think unfortunately for BlackBerry they have missed the boat. They are too late, there is no way back for them any more."

Google's Android platform leads smartphone sales in Australia, accounting for 57 percent to Apple's 30.5 percent in the first quarter of 2012, according to global research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

RIM has seen its global market share halve from 13.6 to 6.4 percent in the past year and said last month it would lay off 5,000 staff as it reported a $518 million loss.

Its Australian office said BlackBerry remained committed to the corporate sector and was "one of the most reliable and cost-effective solutions for mobile enterprise".

Explore further: Qantas in 'world-first' tablet trial

Related Stories

Qantas in 'world-first' tablet trial

September 15, 2011

Passengers on Qantas will be the first in the world to have in-flight entertainment streamed wirelessly to tablet devices in a trial announced by the Australian airline Thursday.

Qantas trials inflight Internet access

December 16, 2011

Australian flag carrier Qantas said Friday customers will be able to access the Internet inflight on certain services from February using their personal electronic devices.

BlackBerry maker stock slips to new low

June 4, 2012

Shares in BlackBerry maker Research In Motion fell below $10, the lowest point in nearly eight years, amid growing concerns about the outlook for the troubled smartphone maker.

Android smartphones widen lead in US market

May 7, 2011

Smartphones powered by Google software widened their lead on BlackBerry handsets in the US market during the first three months of the year, industry tracker comScore reported on Friday.

Recommended for you

Making it easier to collaborate on code

October 26, 2016

Git is an open-source system with a polarizing reputation among programmers. It's a powerful tool to help developers track changes to code, but many view it as prohibitively difficult to use.

Dutch unveil giant vacuum to clean outside air

October 25, 2016

Dutch inventors Tuesday unveiled what they called the world's first giant outside air vacuum cleaner—a large purifying system intended to filter out toxic tiny particles from the atmosphere surrounding the machine.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jul 19, 2012
Oh, I am sure that the new OS for the blackberry BB10 will solve all of RIM's problems.

RIM is being run by incompetents.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.