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Major U.S. Banks Piloting iPhone for Employee Usage


Apple has long touted the role the iPhone can play in the business world, frequently pointing to the percentages of top companies using or piloting the device in their businesses. Bloomberg reports today that two of the biggest U.S. banks, Bank of America and Citigroup, are engaged in pilot testing that could open the door for their employees to adopt the iPhone for corporate usage as an alternative to their existing BlackBerry-dominated systems.

Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. are considering whether to let employees use the Apple Inc. phone as an alternative to Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry for corporate e-mail, said three people familiar with the plans. The banks are testing software for the iPhone that's designed to make it secure enough for company messages, said the people, who didn't want to be named because the plans aren't public.

The news marks yet more evidence of Research in Motion's weakening position in the corporate world, following strong growth by Apple in the most recent quarter which saw the iPhone surpass the BlackBerry line in sales.

Bank of America, which has about 284,000 employees, and Citigroup, with 258,000 workers, are also testing Android smartphones, one person said. The efforts are intended to widen the choice of devices employees can use, rather than replace the BlackBerry, the person said.

The trials at Bank of America and Citigroup involve more than 1,000 employees, two people said. Testing, which typically takes four to six weeks, is advanced at Bank of America and will be followed by a pilot project before potentially wider implementation, one person said.

The report points to a survey showing 83% of U.S. companies now permitting employees to use devices other than BlackBerry phones, with many companies finding that they can cut costs by allowing additional options as employees become increasingly willing to pay for iPhones out of their own pockets.