Pentagon drops RIM exclusivity; eyes up iPhones, Android phones

Pentagon drops RIM exclusivity; eyes up iPhones, Android phones

Summary: RIM has lost yet another exclusive major government client: this time around it's the U.S. Department of Defense that is looking to pitch iPhones to its employee base, dropping the previously favored BlackBerry.

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Another day, another government or enterprise contract lost for the beleaguered BlackBerry maker, Research in Motion.

On the same day the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, a division of the U.S. Homeland Security, said it was looking to ditch the BlackBerry smartphone from its employees hands in favor of Apple's iPhone, the Pentagon had similar plans and quietly issued their warning to the Canadian smartphone maker.

According to Reuters, the Pentagon last week quietly invited companies to submit software proposals to "monitor, manage and enforce security requirements for devices made by Apple and Google," in the hope of supporting devices come April.

The U.S. Department of Defense said on Wednesday that while it will continue to support "large numbers" of the BlackBerry smartphones, the government agency will move forward with plans to support the Apple smartphone among others in the U.S. military.

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) said the defense division was looking to manage at least 162,500 devices at the beginning, but that figure could grow to 262,500 by the end of the contract. Ultimately, the Pentagon wants the management software to support up to 8 million devices.

It's another major blow to RIM as the firm has yet to release the next range of BlackBerry 10 smartphones, pegged for a late first-quarter release. BlackBerrys remain in favor for government use thanks to the secure military-grade security and back-end encryption.

The Pentagon said it will retain BlackBerrys in its department for some secure communications. While Apple and Google are open to submit proposals to support their iOS and Android powered devices respectively, RIM could still be awarded the contract, sister site CNET reports. Rival firms continue to work towards government certification to prove that their devices can be managed in a secure enterprise environment and used for official government communications.

"We are confident that BlackBerry is, and will continue to be, the best solution for government agencies," a RIM spokesperson told CNET.

Topics: BlackBerry, Enterprise Software, Government US, Smartphones

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11 comments
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  • RIM wil probably be the enabler for this to happen with Mobile Fusion/BES10

    The actual quote from the Pentagon is: "The Pentagon on Wednesday said it would continue to support "large numbers" of BlackBerry phones made by Research in Motion Ltd even as it moves forward with plans that would allow the U.S. military to begin using Apple Inc's iPhone and other devices."

    "The U.S. Defense Department last week invited companies to submit bids for software that can monitor, manage and enforce security requirements for devices made by Apple and Google Inc, with an eye to awarding a contract in April."
    SinfoCOMAR
  • Title should be "Pentagon will continue to use BlackBerry phones"

    In spite of an era that is dominated by iPhone 5s, Galaxy smartphones, and Nexus devices, Research In Motion continues to prove its reliability in terms of security, at least to the Pentagon. The Pentagon, the heart of America’s security and defense, said today that it will continue to use and support BlackBerry phones. This is definitely a good news for the struggling BlackBerry maker, considering that the U.S. military has plans of using other devices such as the iPhone from Apple.

    RIM spokesman Paul Lucier said his company's BlackBerry Mobile Fusion product could also be used to manage Android and Apple devices, and RIM was "excited for the opportunity to include BlackBerry Mobile Fusion in the DOD's portfolio."
    SinfoCOMAR
  • Pentagon drops RIM exclusivity; eyes up iPhones, Android phones

    They should be using Microsoft Windows Phone 8 the phone made for businesses. iPhones don't have the control of an enterprise setting and android is full of malware. I'll have to write my congressman about this.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • Moving away from RIM would be a huge mistake

    None of the other systems are actually designed for large businesses, and all of the other companies suffer from the affliction of not being Canadian.

    All of the other going concerns will ultimately place their own interests above those of their customer, categorically untrue of the Canadian company.

    Worried about code that allows backdoor access? Need someone you can trust to actively not take an interest into what secure info might be passed across their tech? Require equipment designed by engineers with first world educations to ensure reliability? Nervous that someone doing work in such a sensitive area may have their own agenda?

    What you need are bright, educated, polite, harmless Canadians to do the work for you, because doing an excellent job is all they care about.
    qwetry
  • Not sure about Android part of Pentagon's future

    This platform is "too open", "too loose" for such secured environment.
    DDERSSS
    • Re: This platform is "too open", "too loose" for such secured environment.

      Seems you're conflating vendor control with security, and user control with insecurity.

      The Pentagon is already using Linux for secure systems (it was the NSA that contributed SELinux to the kernel, after all), Android is just an extension of this. It would be easy enough for the Pentagon, with its budget and resources, to create a custom Android build with their own security extensions. And--who knows? Even contribute those patches back to "official" Android.
      ldo17
  • Security...Microsoft?

    If it is about security then would it not be handed to the one of the companies that get's attacked by the second? Microsoft. Would it not make sense that Microsoft would be #1 choice in this category? Apple is just Apple...they live in their own little world. Android...well there is way to many variables. RIM is just a phone, so there is security there, but how secure will it be once they get to the same category as the rest when it comes to features?

    Goverment getting phones then that means we are paying for it...I think. No iPhones...well at least from my experience when the company I work for was switching from Blackberry to Apple/Google. We were looking to get 60 devices and Apple did not offer anything, the price is what it is. Google offered buy one and get one free!

    This was at the beginning of the year. The company did not care which phone was selected but did want the phone to perform, so we tested iPhone 4s & Android 4gLTE:
    1. Call quality - Both phones were the same
    2. Capable of viewing PDF (architectural drawings) - Android were faster at opening/viewing large files
    3. Speed (performance & download speeds) - No competition here...Android
    4. Screen Size (over half the staff is in the senior category) - No competition here...Android
    5. Most important of all MONEY - No competition here...Android
    lares3k
  • Why does Zack hate RIM?

    I almost don't even have to click on the link to know who's blog post the Negative BlackBerry story is posted on.

    There aren't many positive BlackBerry stories, but why do you have to pile on again and again with a negative slant? Are you trying to get a job with BGR?
    John Hanks
    • Re: Why does Zack hate RIM?

      Yeah, 'cos it's Zack telling the Pentagon to look at alternatives beyond RIM.

      Shoot the messenger, why don't you.
      ldo17
    • ZACK

      What's your problem with RIM, you've bashed them more in the past 4 months than all other bloggers put together!

      You are the UK rep for ZDnet, I am a Brit who now resides in Canada and I know the UK is large enough to have considerable UK sources for you to comment on, stick to your side of the pond.

      Have you not noticed that none of your associates in North America are no longer bashing-up RIM.

      Please change your blog approach as I am tired of your ranting and will no longer read your posts if they mention RIM.
      panelshop
  • Secure

    I very much like the Apple devices for their ease of use, features, and aesthetics, but, I'm still very annoyed by the continuing ease at which I can use the browser on an iPhone to go to a specially crafted site and jail-break the device - without USB or other local-only hacks. Expecting an un-hackable device by any means is impractical, but this should not happen this easily over the non-USB connection.

    Aside form the general fragmentation of Android versions and devices, their user interface is lacking something, but not enough to avoid for that alone. They do however, seem to be a little too easy to "root." Not sure if this should be considered an Android problem (Google's portion), the brands problem (Cricket, etc. and their customization), or a general Linux configuration problem. It's based on Linux. Security exists in the foundations of the OS from which it was derived. Not sure what happened.

    If RIM can keep their devices secure, by all means let the government give them the contract. We need our country to be secure. I don't see Apple nor Google in enough need to put this kind of governmental focus on their devices security features, but plenty of devices out there for hackers to easily have access to. This of course also means less hackers attacking RIM devices, which may make them more secure because less threats exist, or less secure because less people notice the hacks before they become an actual problem.
    ct2193@...