Woolworths mulls BYOD move after iPhone 5 shift

“This move is about what our customers want," says Woolworths spokeswoman.

In another blow for Blackberry maker RIM, Woolworths announced this week it has moved 550 BlackBerry users in the business to the iPhone 5. The supermarket chain has also stated its goal is to move to bring your own device (BYOD) in the future.

“We’ve migrated the remaining BlackBerry users that we had ... across to iPhone 5 this week,” said Woolworths spokeswoman, Kristen Young.

Woolworths already had 250 iPhones and 125 Google Android mobile phones deployed across the business, she said. The new Apple phones will go to Woolworth’s support officers, who include the buying group, management, marketing and media relations.

“This move is about what our customers want, and our customers are using iPhones and they’re using Androids,” she said. “If our customers are going there, that’s where we’ll go as a business.”

Woolworths isn’t the only company moving to iPhone. Qantas announced in July that it was ditching BlackBerry for iPhone. Analysts expect consumers to be the major force driving the iPhone 5 into the enterprise.

Going iPhone 5 also saves Woolworths money. Young estimated the change represents a 20 per cent cost savings by moving users off BlackBerry.

Up until this week, the company had allowed employees a choice between BlackBerry and iPhone, Young said. But Woolworths, which has iOS and Android apps and recently announced an iPad initiative for store managers, is these days focusing more on developing for Apple devices, she said.

“It just makes better sense to be able to get everyone across onto the same platform,” Young said. “Being able to pull up those apps and talking to a customer in store or out in the field is a really useful additional functionality.”

While RIM likes to argue BlackBerry is more secure, Young disagreed that the move to iPhone could have a negative impact in that regard.

“Our technology guys have tested very, very strongly the security of the iPhone and they’re confident it’s going to meet the business’s needs,” she said.

BYOD is in the supermarket chain's future. Young noted that Woolworths head of customer technology, Chris Stanley, has said “this is probably going to be the last rollout where we actually dictate a particular platform.”

RIM posted a Q2 loss of US$235 million, beating expectations, and the BlackBerry maker actually increased its customer base. RIM plans to release a new BlackBerry with a gesture-enabled interface early next year.

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