Pentagon drops exclusive BlackBerry contract for iOS, Android

By on November 1, 2012, 5:30 PM

Despite RIM's impending BlackBerry revamp with BB10 and updated hardware, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) announced it would be dropping its exclusivity contract with RIM. According to Reuters, ICE will be transitioning to Apple's iPhone to fill gaps once occupied by RIM's Blackberry handset.

The same day ICE announced its imminent shift away from BlackBerry, the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) also began taking bids from software makers capable of managing, validating and enforcing Android and iOS handheld security. DISA intends to manage about 162,500 devices with the bid-winning software during its initial rollout. Eventually though, DISA plans to manage over 8 million devices.

Although we don't have the numbers, the DOD is likely a very large customer for RIM and accounts for a significant portion of the company's slowly waning user base. This is because BlackBerry has long been best able to cater to the Pentagon's unique security requirements. As the smartphone explosion continues to produce increasingly sophisticated handsets though, the DOD finally decided to re-evaluate its exclusive partnership with RIM.

Yahoo also recently announced it would be dropping BlackBerry has the preferred handheld.

Although the DOD's sidestep of BlackBerry handsets can't be good news for the languishing smartphone maker, the Pentagon said it will continue to support "large numbers" of BlackBerry handsets. "DISA is managing an enterprise email capability that continues to support large numbers of RIM devices while moving forward with the department's planned mobile management capability that will support a variety of mobility devices," a DISA spokesman said. This may indicate that the Pentagon doesn't plan on eliminating all BlackBerry handsets -- it may simply be aiming for flexibility through diversity.

Also, in an unexpected twist, RIM believes its BlackBerry Mobile Fusion software could be used to manage the defense department's future Android and iOS devices. RIM spokesman Paul Lucier said the Canadian company is, "excited for the opportunity to include BlackBerry Mobile Fusion in the DOD's portfolio." The contract for a favorable solution to manage Android-iOS devices is expected to be awarded in April 2013.

User Comments: 7

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TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Really have to wonder how much longer RIM can hold on. My company is also moving from Blackberries to iPhones.

ikesmasher said:

I find it odd that a government division has the resources to completely rearrange its communication system. taxpayer money buying those iphones yo.

MrAnderson said:

Version 10 devices might reopen for the now underdog RIM. I'm going to root for them... with my iPhone in hand. If they have something that works well I'm open to change. I never own a BB before, did not care for the key pad... it was about getting the most realestate on screen for me. Maybe they will pivot and provide a good platform in some models for gaming with some buttons. I'm wait on one company to do this with android. Valve... maybe some time... a steam store on ANdroid... where is it Valve... okay I totally to this some where else... sorry.

Guest said:

I think the u.s. government is trying to use made in usa label only.

yesterday, the usa booted out zte and huawei.

now, the usa is booting out bb.

windows OSes in schools and government offices.

iOS and android in tablets and cellphones.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Android with its dodgy security history will be a good target for 'foreign hackers' .......

I think this trend could eventually become a norm, at some point in time other countries may want to develop their own home made solutions to avoid any dependency on foreign sources of technology.

Ranger1st Ranger1st said:

US is becoming more phobic of the rest of the world day by day.. you don't want Canada's phones that have served you very well without issue.. fine.. we'll just take our oil, ( that feeds you 50% of your daily needs and sell it somewhere else.. then you can be oh so self reliant.

Robocop Robocop said:

US is becoming more phobic of the rest of the world day by day.. you don't want Canada's phones.

But we do want iphones that are made in China hahahaha we have to keep this how grown and beside the US and China are like one now a day are they not? LOL

I don't know about you but I am a blackberry fan and faithful user and from the way I look at it this is a foolish move on behalf of the US. BB's might be hated and RIM might be suffering a slow painful death but if there is one thing NO ONE can hate or talk trash about is the ability to hammer out an email, communicate and do business related tasks quickly and efficiently with a BB and the security is second to none.

As for BB10 from what I have read and what is to be expected it is going to be the final straw for RIM, they are in so many ways making a knock off copy and form factor and styling of the iphone in hopes to capture some of the iphone crowd which they will not, fine from a reinvented business strategy but they are and will be alienating the current BB faithfuls myself included in the process when they ax many features that have made BB what they are and what put them on the map not to mention which keep their core crowd around today.

I will now step off my soapbox...

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