It looks like BlackBerry will finally be losing its status as the secure mobile platform of choice of the US government. This after reports have come out that the White House is said to be testing smartphones from Samsung and LG for internal use.
A person who is familiar with the mater yet wishes to remain anonymous said that the testing is still in its initial stages. Conducting the tests are the White House’s internal technology team and the White House Communications Agency. It will take months before the tests will be completed and right now there is no indication that President Obama will give up his modified BlackBerry.
A defense department spokesperson however gave a clue that indeed there are tests being conducted right now to find a suitable replacement for the BlackBerry platform. “We can confirm that the White House Communications Agency, consistent with the rest of the Department of Defense, is piloting and using a variety of mobile devices.”
Samsung did not comment directly on this development saying only that “We have seen strong interest from the government sector and are working closely with various agencies to deploy pilot programs.”
A spokesperson for LG on the other hand said that the company is not aware that their devices are being tested as a possible replacement for BlackBerry.
A BlackBerry representative said when asked to comment about this said that “For more than a decade, BlackBerry has been securing the U.S. government’s mobile communications and only BlackBerry is designed to meet the high-security needs of U.S. and allied government agencies.”
It is also interesting to note that the White House is considering the Android platform as a replacement and not the iOS platform. President Obama however said in the past that he prefers to use an iPhone. He even uses an iPad for reading although it isn’t part of the testing program.
BlackBerry was once the most popular platform among government personnel and during its peak cornered an estimated half of the total North American market. That number has now dwindled to only 0.6 percent as reported by the IDC.
BlackBerry is trying to regain its lost glory and in the past months have made some changes in the way it operates. It is also trying to win back its government customers by opening a security innovation center in the Washington D.C. area later this year.
Update: below are previous statements from Blackberry and an excerpt from Washington Post
“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. We were the first mobility platform to receive the ‘Authority to Operate’ certification from the Department of Defense.
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. BlackBerry’s operating system has already received the highest security approvals from the United States, Great Britain and NATO, and our latest operating system, BlackBerry 10, is already certified for high-security users in various NATO countries.”
Washington Post Excerpt:
“A White House spokesman said 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.”