Waterloo, Ont.-based BlackBerry Ltd. has never lacked for hometown support, even as it steadily lost ground in the global smartphone war. Last year, local politicians in next-door Kitchener voted to allow the company to run commercial advertising on municipal land – a rare exemption from a long-time local policy – to promote the launch of its BlackBerry 10 line. Now, the City of Waterloo has agreed to stick by its favourite corporate son by renewing its service plan with Bell Mobility so that its 204 BlackBerry users will continue to use the hometown product.
On Monday, council voted in favour of extending its contract with Bell for three years after it expires in mid-March. A staff report also shows the municipality has upgraded 50 of its BlackBerry smartphones to the BlackBerry 10 platform under a "pilot project." Mayor Brenda Halloran told the Waterloo Record earlier this week that the city is not considering changing to another smartphone brand.
"A lot of our crews will have them – all our planners, our bylaw guys who are out, firefighters," Ms. Halloran told the paper. "We just feel that it keeps us connected so that if we need to get anything done we have instant connection."
The city spends a total of about $172,000 per year on 370 handheld devices, including 166 non-BlackBerry mobile phones.