No Android for Obama yet, sticking with BlackBerry

No Android for Obama yet, sticking with BlackBerry

Summary: BlackBerry may be in a world of hurt, but for now it still has one loyal and very famous customer: President Obama.


It's no secret that BlackBerry is one sick company. Once the very definition of the corporate smartphone, now even BlackBerry's CEO is calling the company's survival a coin-toss. But BlackBerry will continue to have one famous, loyal customer: President Obama.

Obama with his BlackBerry
Sorry Android lovers, President Obama is keeping his BlackBerry smartphone for the time being.

When the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently reported that the White House was testing Samsung and LG Android smartphones for internal use, it looked like Blackberry was going to lose its star customer. Specifically, the WSJ reported that a source had said that the White House Communications Agency, a military unit in charge of President Barack Obama's communications, was in the early stages of testing Android phones. 

Some Android lovers took this to mean that Obama was ready to "ditch" the BlackBerry in favor of their favorite mobile operating system.

BlackBerry, in a statement, kept a stiff upper lip: "We value the long-term relationship we’ve had with the White House and have been securing their mobile communications for more than a decade. The U.S. government requires the highest levels of security. Governments test new technologies frequently, but nevertheless the U.S. government continues to choose BlackBerry for its unmatched security and cost effectiveness. Other vendors such as Samsung and LG still have a long way to go to catch up to meet the government’s stringent requirements and certifications."

Alas, the user-in-chief will continue to type out his e-mails on his specially strengthened BlackBerry. White House spokesman Jay Carney told the Associated Press that the "Executive Office of the President isn't participating in any pilot programs affecting its hand-held devices."

An unidentified White House spokesman also told the Washington Post that "the Executive Office of the President is not involved in any pilot program for testing non-BlackBerry phones and that there is nothing new to share about the president's BlackBerry."

None of this is too surprising. After all, Obama is the man who once said of his BlackBerry, "They're going to have to pry it out of my hands."

That's good news for BlackBerry. Still, with comScore reporting that in January 2014, BlackBerry was down to a mere 3.1 percent of the smartphone market. Worse still, IDC reported that in 2013's fourth quarter BlackBerry's market sales were down to a pathetic 0.70 percent.

It's going to take more than the President to save BlackBerry's bacon. BlackBerry smartphones may stay in the White House until 2017, when a new President is inaugurated, but it's hard to imagine that he or she will be carrying a BlackBerry with the oath of office is taken.

Related Stories:

Topics: Mobility, Android, Mobile OS, BlackBerry, Smartphones

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion

    just sitting here waiting for jessetheapologist to come and put his spin on this story.

    I wonder if his circus will have monkeys?

    (SJVN is slipping, he didn't get one dig in at MS this time)

    Heeeeeeeeeeres jesse!
    • While I am a monkey, I am not part of a circus troupe

      Given that it was very likely that the U.S. government helped to prevent The Lenovo Group from acquiring BlackBerry (recall that the Canadian government nixed this potential acquisition), the least it can do is support BlackBerry by purchasing and using its products.

      P.S. One could take a broad view that ZDNet commenters are a circus troupe. In that case, I yield.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • I doubt an Android device would meet security requirements.

    I doubt an Android device would meet security requirements.

    Blackberrry meets them, and iOS might - but Android has a lot of issues.
    • Maybe not Android, but remember the NSA's Security Enhanced Linux

      There's really no good reason why the military, CIA, FBI and other organizations that need ultra-secure communications couldn't have a custom operating system written for OEM hardware. The only thing that really needs to be unique is the firmware.

      Back in 2010 our company bought a Dell server and a Dell backup system that uses 2.5" drives in plastic cartridges. A few months ago the drive cratered. I tried removing the drives to use them for something else but they wouldn't accept formatting. After some Web research I found out that they have custom firmware. It means the drives can't be reused and if a drive becomes defective the user can't open the plastic case and just replace the drive. (And actually, I don't recall the actual manufacturer, but the drive/cartridge system is manufactured by some other company and Dell just has its name put on the item.)
      • "a custom operating system"?

        Why would they go through the expense of reinventing what's already invented? Blackberry is tested, secure, cheap, and you can buy it over the counter. Why should the feds spend billions of tax-payers' money reinventing Blackberry?
    • @CobraA1, DoD approved Android device(s)

      Defense Information Systems Agency

      Company : Samsung 
      Model : Galaxy Note 
      Version : Android v2.3.6 

      Company : Samsung 
      Model : Galaxy Tab 
      Version : Android 3.2 
      • Non classified usage ...

        ... is not the same as approved to be used by a President.

        Samsung devices (with a highly modified and very old version of Android) are only approved for usage for non-critical, unclassified / regular task.
      • DoD approved Android device(s)

        “Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a U.S. Defense Press Officer, told PCMag that Samsung's Android Knox-based mobile devices also passed muster for deployment on DoD networks.”,2817,2418504,00.asp
        • Do you see the words "classified" or "secure network" ...

          .... anywhere in the quoted words?

          Guess why that is??
      • Android

        Officials Approve Implementation Guides for Mobile Devices

        WASHINGTON, May 3, 2013 – Pentagon officials yesterday approved the security technical implementation guides for BlackBerry 10 smartphones and BlackBerry PlayBook tablets with BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, as well as Samsung's Android Knox, to be used on Defense Department networks.

        “This is a significant step towards establishing a multivendor environment that supports a variety of state-of-the-art devices and operating systems,” Air Force Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement announcing the approval.
        • Get current

          You're quoting a source from a year ago. In the world of tech that may as well be 100 years ago.
          • Current as the picture above

            The article is using pics from last year, I decided to follow that path.

  • Take his BB away

    give him an obamaphone
    • Reaganphone

      You mean a Reaganphone?
      • nice try slave

        that was landlines, these are cell phones
        • You know...

          You know... you could actually try READING the article:

          "The Lifeline program originated in 1984, during the administration of Ronald Reagan; it was expanded in 1996, during the administration of Bill Clinton; and its first cellular provider service (SafeLink Wireless) was launched by TracFone in 2008, during the administration of George W. Bush. All of these milestones were passed prior to the advent of the Obama administration."
          • Don't expect the sheep to read this stuff.

            It might be full of truth.

            The thing they're not use to seeing, that is. :)
          • Neither the article, nor you, are making note of what "originated" means...

            and what it means is that, the program was originated during Reagan's years in the White House, which isn't the same as saying that it was originated by Reagan himself. Congress was under the control of Democrats while Reagan was in office. Most spending plans and programs are proposed by congress.

            You Snopes article misleads when it says that the free or subsidized phone programs are not "directly subsidized by taxpayers", but, when the cost of a government program is passed on to the customers of a company, then, it's exactly the same as a tax to those customers. It's the same as Obamacare, which would depend on young and healthy plan patients to sign up, in order to pay for the older and less healthy. Without the "health plan taxes" being paid by the young and healthy, Obamacare can't work. Without the "subsidies" being paid by phone and cell-plan owners, "Obamaphones" would not exist.

            Also, it's worth noting that, since Obama came into office, the number of people with "free Obamaphones" has more than doubled. Reagan nor Clinton had anything to do with the tremendous number of people who are being qualified to own the free service and phones.
  • Negativity

    Why are journalist always focusing on the negative news. BlackBerry is doing a lot of good things and has a great product. But no let's focus on the market share.
    • Media Sucks!

      Because if media didn't act like the Simon Cowell of the tech world, nobody would pay attention. The last good mags were back in the days of Byte and early PC Mag. Since then they have become a breeding ground for idiots (I'm speaking of the writers and editors, not the readers). Remember in 2006 when Apple was on the brink of extinction and the mags were all screaming "Goodbye Apple, you suck, good riddance ...", and now they have a 5-star rager for Apple. Magazines (print and online) flip and flop worse than politicians. But, it keeps trolls and sheep happy!!