Pentagon to order 650,000 iOS devices, replace aging BlackBerries

By on March 21, 2013, 10:12 AM

Update: In an exchange with Wired, Lt. Col. Damien Pickart dismissed the notion that the DoD is replacing its existing BlackBerry devices, though he didn't outright deny that the department is looking to order a large quantity of iOS devices.

Speaking with "well-placed sources," Electronista says that the US Department of Defense is preparing to update its mobile gear, abandoning BlackBerry in the process.

About 470,000 BlackBerry devices are reportedly in daily use at the Pentagon, but none of them can tap into the new BlackBerry 10 operating system, leaving them obsolete.

Unfortunately for the Canadian phone maker, the sequester is said to have prevented testing of the new platform, for which funding has been cut and may not be resorted.

Instead, the DoD is supposedly going to order 650,000 iOS devices from Apple as soon as the sequester is over, allegedly saying that "some of the needs can't wait."

Of the more than half a million products ordered from Apple, Electronista's sources say that 120,000 will be iPads, 100,000 will be iPad minis, 200,000 will be iPod touches and the last 210,000 units will be various iPhones. No specific models were shared, but the DoD may not even have that information itself until after the sequester. It's said that more than half of the devices will be sent abroad to the battlefield and associated support commands, while most of the rest will remain in the US at the Pentagon.

The purchase would come as part of the DoD's initiative to improve communications between its staff by using the latest software which, again, probably isn't compatible with the aging pre-BlackBerry 10 gear. Although any major Apple order by the DoD could be considered a blow to BlackBerry, Lt. Col. Damien Pickart has previously noted that the department will be replacing its old mobile equipment with hardware and software from multiple vendors, so BlackBerry 10 could still be on the table pending funding.

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