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BlackBerry or Apple, which is best for business users ?

The BlackBerry's full Qwerty keyboard and push email has made it a firm favourite with businessmen and bankers worldwide. But the dominance of Research in Motion's devices could be under threat from Apple's iPhone.

British bank Standard Chartered has just announced that it is migrating its workforce from BlackBerrys to iPhones. Workers will now be offered a choice between either handset, or will be allowed to switch if they currently use a Blackberry. Given the scale of the company, which has some 75,000 employees, it could signal the beginning of a major shift in handsets for businessmen worldwide.

Many companies still retain the notion that the BlackBerry is best for business, with banks like HSBC and Morgan Stanley offering it as the only handset choice. The release of iPhone OS 3.0 in 2008 went some way towards making the iPhone more palatable to businesses, adding some crucial security features that out it on a par with the BlackBerry.

"Once upon a time, there was nothing more secure than a Blackberry," said Ben Wood, an industry analyst with CSS Insight. "iPhone OS 3.0 however brought features like remote wipe and remote lock, features vital in a handset that's going to be used by a big business.

"Companies in North America helped spearhead the growth of the iPhone as a work phone. Chief executives wanted the handset because it was the next must-have gadget. They then asked their company's technology desks to adopt the phone, and slowly they rolled the devices out across the entire business."

BlackBerrys still remain the most popular business devices in both the UK and US. But as Lu Chialin, an IT industry analyst at Macquarie Securities in Taipei, told Reuters: "If more companies switch to the iPhone, this is of course bad news for Research in Motion."

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