The NYPD is learning a hard lesson about the dangers of buying a declining smartphone platform in bulk. The New York Post understands that the police force is replacing all 36,000 of its officers' Windows phones with iPhones just two years after the rollout began. It's not exactly clear as to why, but Microsoft recently ended support for Windows Phone 8.1 -- the standard-issue Lumia 830 and 640 XL devices won't get any help if something goes wrong. The switch to iPhones also suggests that the NYPD doesn't see a long-term value in upgrading to Windows 10 Mobile.
According to a source talking to the Post, the ill-fated Windows handset purchase was largely (if not exclusively) the decision of deputy IT commissioner Jessica Tisch. She "insisted" on the platform because the NYPD was using Microsoft software for a video surveillance program at the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative Command Center. In other words: the force apparently bought phones without consultation on the mere belief that they might work more effectively with program infrastructure.
The devices have made officers' lives easier, to be clear. They can receive alerts, search databases and file reports while in the field. It's just that the devices themselves may have a limited lifespan.
The force says it won't comment on story until after Tisch's return from vacation on August 28th (today, if you're reading this in time). If the scoop is at all accurate, however, it already illustrates the dangers when an organization bets on a platform with an uncertain future. It doesn't matter how well software works in the short term if its long term fate looks grim -- outfits have to think about whether or not they'll have support years later.