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Unfriendly skies for BlackBerry as Qantas switches to iPhones

Research In Motion Limited President and CEO Thorsten Heins speaks during the annual general meeting of shareholders in Waterloo July 10, 2012.

MIKE CASSESE/REUTERS

Australia's Qantas Airways is the latest company to drop Research in Motion Ltd.'s Blackberry, after employees voted in favour of Apple's iPhone in a survey.

RIM virtually invented mobile e-mail, making it the phone of choice for companies when it rolled out its first BlackBerry devices more than a decade ago. But its market share has evaporated as consumers flock to iPhones and devices based on Google Inc's Android system.

Qantas said it was replacing 1,300 company-issued Blackberrys with iPhones and the savings at the end of the program would be about $1.4-million Australian. IBM was also reported to be dropping RIM for iPhones for 500 employees in Australia.

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"Transition from the Blackberry to the iPhone is part of Qantas' broader mobility strategy and once complete will result in significant cost savings," the airline said.

"Savings will come from simplifying the infrastructure supporting the devices, from the devices themselves and from the data agreements reached with our providers."

RIM last month posted its first operating loss in eight years and it was much deeper than expected. The company also said it was cutting 5,000 jobs, almost a third of its workforce, as it struggles to survive.

Last week RIM said Ray Gillenwater, the head of its Australian and New Zealand operations, had stepped down just months after being promoted to the job, joining a list of senior executives leaving the company.

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