US government reaffirms commitment to BlackBerry smartphones

By Lee Kaelin on April 6, 2012, 1:00 PM

It has been a troubling couple of years for smartphone maker Research in Motion, whose BlackBerry line of smartphones has been suffering with continually declining sales, executives leaving en-mass, and the recent loss of their number one position as the top smartphone supplier in their home country, Canada.

Despite the mass exodus by consumers to more compelling alternatives, it would seem Washington and their army of half a million federal workers are still perfectly happy with their BlackBerry smartphones. Even more interestingly, the number supplied to federal agencies hasn’t dipped over the last couple of years, despite them plummeting in every other sector RIM sells to.

"We appreciate RIM’s focus on security, which is paramount for government use," said Casey Coleman, the chief information officer at the General Services Administration when speaking with the Washington Post. The agency admits it does now allow some staff to choose iPhones and select Android smartphones, but the vast majority of the 12,000 smartphones issued to staff are BlackBerry handsets.

The figures would suggest the US government hasn’t joined the smartphone revolution so far. But other agencies and big contractors are also keen to point out the price difference between BlackBerry and those of iPhones and Android handsets as another important factor. Those staffing the multiple governmental IT departments are being trained to repair BlackBerry devices, too, which combined make for compelling reasons to remain loyal to RIM.

Security is also high on the list of priorities, and those calling the shots believe RIM offer an inherently more secure platform for communications than rival smartphone OS solutions. RIM responded to the news with the following statement. "The federal government is a very important market to us and will continue to be. It is our core strength," said Scott Totzke, a RIM senior vice president.

User Comments: 3

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Superpeter Superpeter said:

Blackberries need to be (@least the ones I've purchased)more resilient. My last two BB's were fragile pieces of work. One of my previous ones broke falling from the sitting part of a couch onto a carpeted floor!! Living room soft carpet, not industrial/commercial crap. Though they don't seem to have the personal info archiving/tracking issues of the other big two (iOs/Android). I vaguely remember them having that issue where their network shut down for a bit at the end of last year but for the most part, I have fond memories of using the BlackBerry Os and i really enjoyed their QWERTY keyboard..if their phones were better, I might be enticed to give them another try.

Guest said:

Of course the US government will keep purchasing them. They love wasting tax payers money.

Guest said:

They purchase them because they're secure, and can be configured centrally.

iPhones would be a lot more popular, but they're wildly insecure. Android isn't very secure either, unless you use something like the NSA build, but I don't think the government really wants to get into the handset "making" business.

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