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Automaker Ford says it will replace BlackBerrys with Apple's iPhones

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TORONTO - Ford Motor Co. is hanging up on BlackBerry and giving thousands of its employees Apple's iPhone.

A spokeswoman for the automaker said Ford aims to replace BlackBerry smartphones with about 3,300 iPhones by the end of the year.

Over the next two years, another 6,000 iPhones will be handed out to staff who currently use various flip phone models.

Ford representative Sara Tatchio said the changes began last year, and that the decision wasn't hinged on BlackBerry. Instead, Ford found that iPhones met both employee's needs and the company's security requirements.

BlackBerry has lost some big clients in recent years, including hardware retailer Home Depot, which abandoned the phone in early 2013, although others like Canadian Tire (TSX:CTC.A) have stuck with the device.

A statement from BlackBerry declined to comment on Ford's decision, but said businesses "should think twice" about relying on consumer technology that "lacks the proven security benefits that BlackBerry has always delivered."

BlackBerry shares ended the Wednesday trading session 27 cents higher at $10.59 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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