Big Banks Eying a Switch

By Reuters  |  Print this article Print

Financial giants Bank of America and Citigroup are reportedly looking at alternatives to BlackBerry for corporate email, including Apple's iPhone.

The move by Bank of America and Citigroup follows the lead of JPMorgan Chase & Co and UBS, which said in September they were considering allowing employees to use iPhones or other alternatives to the standard-issue BlackBerry.

British bank Standard Chartered already gives employees the choice to use iPhones.

Bank of America has around 290,000 employees, while Citi employs some 258,000.

RIM shares were down 3.4 percent at $55.17 on Nasdaq late Friday morning and were off 3.2 percent in Toronto at C$55.28.

A RIM executive said the Waterloo, Ontario-based company was still adding corporate subscribers and it continues to lead a growing market.

"We believe the opportunities for both corporate-issued and employee-purchased smartphones are growing and that RIM provides the best overall platform for CIOs (chief information officers) to address both scenarios without compromising security or manageability," RIM's senior vice-president for enterprise and platform marketing, Jeff McDowell, said.

RIM responded sharply in October when Apple CEO Steve Jobs boasted iPhone sales had overtaken BlackBerry sales in the quarter, saying that the Cupertino-based tech giant was surrounded by a "distortion field".

In the third quarter, RIM's global smartphone market share slipped more than 4 percentage points from a year earlier, according to industry tracker IDC.

(Additional reporting by Gabriel Madway in San Francisco, Joe Rauch in Charlotte, Maria Aspan in New York and Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; editing by Rob Wilson)