Home Depot managers to get iPhones, lose BlackBerrys

Home Depot is hanging up on BlackBerry, once the gold standard for company-issued phones, and instead issuing Apple iPhones to upper-level managers, the home improvement retailer confirmed Tuesday.

The disappointing news for BlackBerry comes two weeks after the Canadian company introduced a new line of smartphones, hoping to regain ground lost to the iPhone and devices powered by Google’s Android operating system.

Home Depot is replacing around 10,000 BlackBerrys with versions of the iPhone, according to Apple Insider.com, which first reported the switch. Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that iPhones are being issued to district managers, managers in corporate offices and store managers, but he didn’t specify which device, the iPhone 4S or iPhone 5.

Holmes declined to say why the switch was being made or how much the home improvement retailer was paying for the Apple devices.

While not directly addressing Home Depot’s decision, a BlackBerry spokeswoman said more than 2,700 North American businesses have registered for the company’s “BlackBerry 10 Ready Program.”

The new BlackBerrys — the touch-screen Z10 and touch screen-keyboard combo Q10 — launched in the United Kingdom last week and in Canada on Tuesday. The Z10 is expected to hit U.S. store shelves next month and the Q10 either in May or June.

“We are confident that BlackBerry is, and will continue to be, the best solution for corporations managing large smartphone deployments,” spokeswoman Amy McDowell told Reuters.

The new devices have many of the features consumers have come to expect in smartphones, such as touch screens, apps and multimedia, but there are drawbacks. The BlackBerry 10 is launching with 70,000 apps, compared with more than 700,000 apps for iPhone and Android phones.

Once the preferred device among businesses and government agencies, the BlackBerry fell out of favor because it had failed to keep up with the latest smartphone technology. According to Forbes, BlackBerry’s global smartphone market share is down to roughly 6 percent from a peak of 20 percent just three years ago.

Other companies that have dropped the BlackBerry include the energy services company Halliburton and government consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton. Government agencies that are parting ways include U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Home Depot’s store employees will continue to use about 60,000 Motorola smartphones.