BlackBerry's Last Stand at the Pentagon? Not Yet

By Aliya Sternstein

March 22, 2013

The Defense Department and BlackBerry maintain the military is not, as reports suggest, dismissing the company's new product line.

Defense “is aware of recent reporting that asserts it is 'dropping' BlackBerry. This reporting is in error,” department spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart said in a statement.

Company officials went as far as saying the Pentagon is slated to approve by April 10 a newly mandated, device-agnostic "security requirement guide," or SRG, for the BlackBerry 10 and the company's PlayBook tablet.

The guide is part of recently-released instructions for instituting a 2012 mobile strategy that supports numerous brands, including BlackBerry.

"BlackBerry was the first to go through the new SRG process by the Defense Department and will be the first to successfully come out of it," the company said in a statement. 

Pickart would only state that “we are working towards establishing a multi-vendor environment” and expect to manage about 100,000 mobile gadgets from various brands by February 2014. Defense currently is using or trying out 600,000 commercial devices, including 470,000 BlackBerries; 41,000 Apple iOS-based electronics; and 8,700 Google Android systems, he added.

Agencies from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have swapped BlackBerries for iPhones, while the Pentagon has been evaluating Apple’s security. On Wednesday, the blog Electronista stated Defense planned to purchase more than 650,000 iOS devices, after the sequester of governmentwide blanket budget cuts. 

Other rumors were that the Pentagon had stopped trials using the new BlackBerry product line to save money. 

BlackBerry officials say that's false.

"Defense is moving forward with testing of BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 and the new BlackBerry Z10 smartphone," their statement said. 

Even though ICE is in the middle of replacing old BlackBerries with iPhones, the law enforcement agency has agreed to evaluate the BlackBerry 10, company officials said last year. 

By Aliya Sternstein

March 22, 2013