More support for Apple, Google at Pentagon could spell problems for BlackBerry

More support for Apple, Google at Pentagon could spell problems for BlackBerry

Summary: Once ruling supreme, BlackBerry now has to seriously compete against the two largest smartphone providers in the world within the Pentagon.


The Pentagon is working on opening up its digital networks to more smartphones and tablets made by Apple and Google as soon as next year.

The U.S. Department of Defense issued a statement on Tuesday affirming it will be permitting more access to thousands more devices running iOS and Android.

Defense Department chief information officer Teri Takai explained in the announcement that the revised strategy is in alignment with the bureau's increased reliance on mobile for "as a key capability enabler for joint force combat operations, the application of mobile technology into global operations, integration of secure and non-secure communications, and development of portable, cloud-enabled capability will dramatically increase the number of people able to collaborate and share information rapidly."

She continued:

The DoD Mobile Device Strategy and Implementation Plan aim to align the various mobile devices, pilots and initiatives across the department under common objectives to ensure the warfighter benefits from these activities and aligns with efforts in the Joint Information Environment. This is not simply about embracing the newest technology -- it is about keeping the department’s workforce relevant in an era when information accessibility and cybersecurity play a critical role in mission success.

But aside from some potential security and technical support concerns that come with any shift in IT policy, this is also likely to spell out some big problems for at least one party: BlackBerry.

Up until now, the beleaguered Canadian phone maker's stronghold has arguably been government and military customers given its good reputation for mobile security.

Bloomberg cited that the U.S. military headquarters in Arlington, Va. has more than 600,000 mobile devices in circulation -- of which 470,000 them run on BlackBerry OS while iOS accounts for 41,000 devices and Android covers approximately 8,700.

But now that iOS and Android handhelds are catching up (and very popular with consumers and business users alike), maybe it shouldn't come as much of a shock that the governmental agency is looking in a new direction -- even with the pending release of BlackBerry 10.

Topics: Government, Apple, BlackBerry, Samsung, Security, Bring Your Own Device

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  • the latest ios hack makes it handy

    for US's dear "friends"
  • Why would this spell trouble?

    I have to ask Why would this spell Trouble for BlackBerry Company (BBRY), BBRY makes BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10 (BES10) which is a multiplatform mobile device management solution, and it is being deployed within the DoD, ICE, and other Government agencies across the globe. BES10 supports management for iOS and Android devices, and brings service revenue into BBRY. BlackBerry Handhelds (BBHs) are BBRYs low margin product, service revenue from BES installations will be BBRYs high margin revenue. Government installations supporting multiple OS's means more Service revenue for BBRY additionally with expanded support of iOS and Android devices it means that BBRY doesn't need to address hardware segments that are well services by the other manufacturers. Should Android/iOS make watches that the government wants to manage, BES10 can service that need and collect revenues without having to invest R&D into making their own watches.

    Should Android or iOS really advance the TV display market with features and data connectivity BES10 gets service revenue.

    The Argument that other MDM solutions exist will surely come up. but the fact BES has been a government product since 2000 gives it the incumbent advantage and also the security clearance advantage. Good Technologies as well as other MDM solutions actually license components from BBRY to deliver their services which is an argument that a BBRY Enterprise account manager can use as to why someone should stick with BES10.

    Because the DoD is saying "As early as next year" that gives BES10 a year to solidify its place as MDM of choice, and gives BlackBerry10 handheld devices the opportunity to gain consumer traction.

    As a user of 3 mobile devices right now while I wait for the BlackBerryQ10 I can say that my BlackBerryZ10 and my iPhone4S are both great devices, but neither can hold a candle to the typing experience of my Bold9900 which I am clinging onto waiting for the Q10, hoping that all 3 devices can become just that Q10 fingers crossed!
    • Competition is Heating Up!

      In January last year, DOD, NSA and GSA announced plans to open up bidding and project assignments to not just General Dynamics, Microsoft and Blackberry, but to include both Google and Apple. This was mainly done to avoid lawsuits like the one Google won over Office getting the contract over lower bid.

      But Google had already won more MDM working Projects in place than any of the competition and NSA had already been working on Android Security Enhanced Linux Kernel, that had already been completed. Apple already had one test project in the works for SiPAD. This was for non combat use though. Now that Android has been certified with level 6 Security Clearance and has so many DOD and GSA Projects in place with their own App Store no less, it's assumed that after over two years of field trials Google already has their Android OS locked in. Both Motorola and SAMSUNG Gallaxy Smartphones have already been purchased. They are already deployed in combat use now. In fact, Android Smartphones are the only phones that have been purchased the last three years.

      This is really a CYA move by the Pentigon in Washington, to keep the bidding process open for lowest bidder to get deal, who also has the best internal OS Security. Naturally, with the hardened SE Kernel in now in Android and Apple unwilling to allow the NSA to harden the iOS Kernel itself, as well Microsoft also refusing to allow modification of it's mobile OS, the competition will most likely be between Blackberry and Android Smartphones. Especially since Apple's iOS has been proved to be the Insecure of all the mobile OS's recently!
      • Blackberry can Run Android Apps!

        So porting DoD's already existing Android Apps, shouldn't be a problem. That was a really smart move, with Blackberry taking advantage of Android's Open Platform, when it appeared eminent that with both SE Kernel in Android and the Pentigon's own Android App Store, that Android had the inside track to most of the Pentigon's Smartphone purchases!
  • They will be baaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

    Once Z10 gets out there in US. I think many will eventually reconsider BB. Less malware (for now) and better for the enterprise.
  • They seem as uninformed

    They seem as uninformed as ICE.
    Susan Antony
  • Good Cop, Bad Cop?

    I think I get how this works now. One, or two ZDNet writers constantly posts negative articles about BlackBerry, while some other writers constantly post positive articles about BlackBerry (and this probably applies to the other platforms as well). Sort of a Good Cop, Bad Cop routine. While we the readers, actually cattle would be a more appropriate term, are expected to stampede back and forth devouring all that is offered for our consumption. Well, I think I've lost my appetite. Goodbye.
  • Android out the box makes it handy

    for US's dear "friends"
  • Security-Enhanced Android Should Fit Right In

    It uses the SELinux kernel extensions developed by the NSA.

    Can Apple or Microsoft offer MAC-based security?