Virginia's Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm that provides the bulk of its services to the U.S. Army, Navy Air Force, and Department of Homeland Security, announced on Thursday that it would decommission its dedicated BlackBerry server and cease offering BB devices to its 25,000 employees.
Booz Allen, like other organizations with government ties, previously favored BlackBerry devices for their tight security, though it offered some undisclosed numbers of iPhones and Android handsets even before this shift.
Staff who require a work phone will now be able to choose among only Android and Apple smartphones.
What's more, the shutting-down of the server means that even those who use BlackBerries for personal purposes will no longer be able to access Booz Allen's infrastructure on those devices.
Recon Analytics analyst Roger Entner told TechRadar over the phone on Thursday that the loss of Booz Allen's business is "a huge blow for BlackBerry."
Entner said it's a sign that BlackBerry could continue to lose government customers.
Indeed, Bloomberg points out that other government firms, including the General Services Administration and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, are moving away from BlackBerry as well.
"The U.S. government was one of the last pillars of strength in terms of an entrenched user base that BlackBerry had," Entner said, and now it could be losing that.
On the other hand, a spokesperson speaking for BlackBerry makers Research in Motion reportedly told Bloomberg on Thursday that the company still works with more than a million government customers in North America, and Scott Totzke, the Senior Vice President for BlackBerry Security, reported in April that sales to federal agencies were rising.
But "it always starts with the first step," Entner said, describing RIM's government business as a cracked dam that will eventually burst.
BB10 'the Duke Nukem Foreverof wireless'
Nevertheless, it's undeniable that RIM is in trouble, due almost entirely to its massive delays in getting the long-awaited BlackBerry 10 OS out to market.
The first BB10 devices may have been outed in a recent video, but the vaporware OS might not be enough to salvage RIM.
Entner called BB10 "the Duke Nukem Forever of wireless," referring to a video game that was in development for over 15 years, only to disappoint critics and players alike upon its final release in 2011.
"That's the danger that BlackBerry is also facing, you know? It takes forever, and then everybody hates it," Entner said.
RIM's stock is reportedly down 45 percent this year, and down 95 percent from 2008 high. It fell an addition 1.9 percent today, according to Bloomberg.
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