Treasury ditches BlackBerry for Apple

Treasury ditches BlackBerry for Apple

Summary: The Australian Department of Treasury will ditch its fleet of BlackBerry devices for iPhone 5s, CIO Peter Alexander has revealed to ZDNet.


Over the next month and a half, the Australian Department of Treasury will ditch its fleet of BlackBerry mobile phones in favour of iPhone 5s, according to chief information officer Peter Alexander.

The department has traditionally provided BlackBerry devices to staff in the department, four ministers' offices, and agencies under Treasury; but after Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) certified iOS for government use, Alexander said that the department made a decision to switch over.

"We're going to use Apple devices as our corporate platform — iPhones and iPads for now," Alexander told ZDNet. "Basically because iOS has been evaluated by Defence Signals Directorate."

The control of the 250 devices will be managed by the mobile device management platform AirWatch, and Alexander said the department would aim to complete the roll-out by the end of March.

The decision to drop BlackBerry — which already had DSD approval — for the iPhone within Treasury comes as BlackBerry last week officially launched the new operating system BlackBerry 10 and two new devices, the Q10 and the Z10. Alexander said that he wasn't sure that BlackBerry's attempted comeback would succeed.

"BlackBerry has pretty limited capability," he said. "With the new one being launched, it's almost too late. Maybe it'll catch up, maybe it won't."

Alexander said that the lack of DSD approval of any Android devices prevented the department from going with Android.

"In the coldest and cruelest way to look at it, there was no decision for us, really. We looked at it in terms of usability and functionality, Android phones are perfectly adequate ... but it was really a decision we didn't have much option in."

Most of the department's mobile fleet is serviced by Optus, he said, except for in some ministers' offices where Telstra was the preferred carrier.

"No criticism of Telstra, but we've had some really nice arrangements with Optus [for bundles]. That bundling of data has been really useful for us over time," he said.

"Telstra has better coverage [such as 4G in Canberra]. Lots of people in the ministerial offices want to have Telstra. Not only because of the speed, but also because of the connection."

Telstra has rolled out its 4G long-term evolution (LTE) network into select areas of Canberra already. Optus plans on launching its time division duplex (TD) LTE network in the capital in March or April; however, this network will not be compatible with the iPhone 5.

Topics: Apple, Government, Government AU, BlackBerry


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Great timing

    Their timing seems even worse than The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
    At least they had the brains to reconsider. Will the Australian Department of Treasury?
    Susan Antony
    • I guess it depends on how fast they can get BB certified.

      "Basically because iOS has been evaluated by Defence Signals Directorate."
      NoMore MicrosoftEver
      • BlackBerry is DSD approved

        Sorry, I will add that into my story, I neglected to include it.
        Josh Taylor
        • They were too late, alas

          Even the newly announced Blackberry 10 already can not offer serious competitive advantage over iOS devices.
          • Should have gone to Nokia

            Better all round
          • Just saying ...

    • Blackberry's Timing?

      Yes RIM released their nice new BlackBerry phone too late to get this one.

      Why would they reconsider? Some sort of social faux pas to not use Blackberry? Apple not your favourite?
  • Just curious

    What is the problem with Android? There are hundreds and hundreds of devices and yet not one has been deemed suitable. It is a problem with the devices, with Android or simply that for some reason no devices have been tested?
    • why no Android?

      1) Google
      2) Malware factory
      3) Google+
      • Smarter governments

        Are making their own versions of Android based on the open source, which are tested & certified for security, deprived of questionable stuff and can be locked down to a required degree.
        • really?

          And how many time will it take? To build, QA and to integrate?
          Maria Davidenko
          • Re: And how many time will it take? To build, QA and to integrate?

            Let's put it this way: from when the Android 4.0 sources were first released back in November 2011, to CyanogenMod releasing its first trial builds, was a total of six weeks.

            You think maybe a "proper" IT department could do better than a bunch of volunteers?
          • I'm sure of this

            Because an IT department has its tasks and completes them. A bunch of volunteers, on the other hand, may not notice something important. The problem here is the security of android devices, so, every security hole should be closed. This is the thing that needs time. So,who wants something that needs human resources to make it work , if something , that works exists???
            Maria Davidenko
        • No

          Smarter governments are using things that work now, not things that might, possibly, work down the road.
          Michael Alan Goff
  • BlackBerry has pretty limited capability

    It sounds like Peter has a pretty aged Blackberry deployment. There are a lot of companies still using 8830/8310 Blackberry that are going on 5 years old at this point. So yeah those devices are pretty limited. Is that RIM's fault they didn't upgrade their devices? The 9900 series were quite capable and we extended a host of internal and vendor Apps onto it. Frankly its more functional than any other mobile device from a corporate usage perspective.

    Now perhaps Treasury is going to make a native iOS App or a key App already has an iOS App. They also decided to use a 2 year old model which will save on cost, just hope Apple doesn't drop iOS updates for it soon. Likely another year before it gets dropped.

    What Peter is likely not considering is the extra overhead to manage iOS in the enterprise. iTunes accounts are needed, Volume Purchase Program helps but only a little. They didn't mention which MDM they will use to secure and manage iOS so that's another costs they will absorb. I've used them all and while they are decent from a management perspective your going to miss little things here and there Blackberry provided, much of this is due to Apple doesn't support it or has no API to manage it. These other MDM are not cheap either, our CAL to manage iOS is 2x the cost of BES.

    We're also seen pretty awful technical support from Apple. There is no enterprise support structure, either use the Stores or call and ship your devices (1-2 week turn around). A big thing to watch is data usage now that their are tiered plans. Many of our users are using a lot of data that we know is now business related (video streaming etc). We're black listing Apps now on corporate devices and locking them down similar to our Blackberry deployment. Surprisingly employees are not happy and just use their own iPhone. It's not really about lack of capability - it's really they want to play games and other non work things on the corporate dime. We have a BYOD program for employees so they can do so if they wish (most don't).

    We lived the other MDM world / iOS for 2 years and after using BB10 / BES 10 the past month see a lot of potential and will be looking to move our corporate users to this once it's rolled out. iOS, Android will mostly be BYOD as it's too much of a headache.