updated 04:05 pm EDT, Tue October 28, 2008
No iPhones in Congress
The US House of Representatives is not likely to adopt the iPhone in the near future, according to a press secretary. Recent reports had indicated that Congressional staff were testing iPhones for possible support; phones must not only meet technical needs but qualify for an allowance distributed to each representative's office. Jeff Ventura, speaking on behalf of Congressional chief administrative officer Dan Beard, now explains that while there has been "some interest from offices" for the iPhone, there is little chance of the device becoming standard.
"If demand is high," says Ventura, "[the Chief Administrative Office's] role in terms of operational support of the members is to make what they want happen." The most basic problem, he explains, is that considerably more testing is needed, given that supporting the iPhone would not only require more planning, but an investment in software to deal with issues like security.
Demand also remains comparatively low, as the most popular phone in Congress is Research in Motion's BlackBerry, specifically the BlackBerry Pearl. Over 8,000 BlackBerries are used by residents of Congress. Ventura further comments that although the iPhone has made progress in terms of enterprise support, it is still missing unspecified "utilitarian functions" taken for granted on BlackBerries.
A former Congressional staffer notes that price is an issue as well, because RIM offers heavy discounts to Congress, and the government does not want to be accused of wasting taxpayer money on new technology. Likewise, salaries and phone purchases are paid for out of the same budget.