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BlackBerry Still Dominates Pentagon Pockets

by Mike Hoffman on January 21, 2014

BlackBerryThe Pentagon can’t break their CrackBerry habit. Once the smartphone of choice, most of the nation and even most federal workers have stopped using BlackeBerries as their work phones years ago. But the U.S. military keeps plodding along with the BlackBerry.

Last week, the Defense Department said that Blackberry’s will make up 80 percent of the phones that will be used for a new program the military is starting that will actually make it easier to use one of the more popular iPhone and Samsung smartphone.

The issue has always been information security. The Pentagon viewed the BlackBerry as a more secure operating system and thus limited most troops and contractors to the BlackBerry. The Defense Information Systems Agency wants to open up more mobile devices to troops.

Announced last year, DISA started the DOD Mobility Implementation Plan and will release version 1.0 of the unclassified mobility capability on Jan. 31.

About 100,000 users will take part in the first version of the program and about 80,000 BlackBerries will be used by those service members and contractors. Another 1,800 will be using the iPad 3 and 4, iPhone 4S and 5, Samsung 10.1 tablets and Samsung 3S, and Motorola RAZR devices.

Currently, the military uses about 600,000 commercial mobile devices in operations and testing. That includes about 470,000 BlackBerry devices, 41,000 Apple platforms and 8,700 Android-based systems meaning that 90 percent of the mobile devices used by the military are BlackBerries. Pentagon officials expect those numbers to balance out as this program has more time to introduce more operating systems.

Over the next year, DISA will incorporate a mobile device management system, mobile application store, approved devices list, and supported cellular access among other mobile initiatives, according to a DISA statement. Agency officials are also constantly working to vet new applications and devices. Right now, DISA is inspecting 90 additional applications for approval.

DISA has also reached out to specific branches to help them migrate their smartphones and mobile devices like iPads over to the secure military mobile system. Agency officials are working with the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command and the Army’s Human Resources Command to make sure they are taking the right steps to getting their applications and devices on board.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

blight_ January 21, 2014 at 11:54 am

They could pay Lockheed to build an AOSP fork that is more "secure"…Lockheed loves code-writing projects.

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Anonymous January 21, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Another military project for Lockheed? Yeah…that'll never fly!

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blight_ January 21, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Lockheed: If you don't give us project N+1, we'll break projects 1…N

This merely means that as N increases, Lockheed has more and more power.

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tmb2 January 21, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Blackberry has had no competition in the government side of the business for years. If everything works out in this trial run, units will have the option of what phone to buy. Blackberry is doomed if that happens.

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Mark January 21, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Blackberrys are junk.
Have Apple engineer a MilSpec iPhone.

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blight_ January 21, 2014 at 4:21 pm

You want military devices with iOS on 'em?

Or do you just like brushed aluminum? Or is it the plastic ones?

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B.A. January 22, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Apple would be uninterested in the market; DoD is very small potatos. Apple does business in the millions of units.

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Rufus Frazier January 21, 2014 at 3:32 pm

I'd like to see a Mil-spec weaponized 45 ACP Blackberry. Someone at DARPA should write a proposal.

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blight_ January 21, 2014 at 4:21 pm

It'll look like the corner-shot, with a computer screen and a gun.

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Dave January 23, 2014 at 9:57 am

Just don't hold it next to your head.

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Rog January 21, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Idiotic! Google "Blackberry on Death Watch". Another Albatross, or Do Do bird for the military. Sure would like to follow the money on this one.

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Bernard January 21, 2014 at 4:47 pm

If Blackberry were smart, they would drop out of the private sector and focus on the defense and government market. If they started contracts with the DoD they could charge enough per phone to no longer need the private sector.

Unfortunately the dunces in charge are sitting on their butts while Silent Circle creates the "Blackphone." I hope Blackberry wakes up in time, but it really doesn't look like they will. They wasted too much money trying to make an iPhone, but they aren't Apple, they should have stuck to their strengths.

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tmb2 January 21, 2014 at 9:30 pm

I wasn't aware they had any private sector market share left worth talking about.

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iPowerUp January 21, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Since I created a BB hybrid holster charger for emergency situtions which is ideal for the military since they continue to use the BB Curve family of phones. I'm wondering if anyone can tell me who to contact so I can perhaps donate them?

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Chuang Shyue Chou January 21, 2014 at 9:57 pm

I think the military should adopt an Android-based mobile that is customised to their needs. Ditch the Blackberry. Avoid Apple.

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Trent Bradford February 4, 2014 at 11:59 am

Just so you know the new Blackberry operating system is based on QNX an industrial real time operating system that was derived like Android from Linux. The ability to port Android applications is exceptionally easy for any competent programmer.
Try out a BB 10 you may be surprised
.

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Musson January 22, 2014 at 8:56 am

The simple solution to phone security issues for our military: burner phones!

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FJCM January 31, 2014 at 7:27 pm

anyone who says the blackberry phone sucks haven't used their latest phones, check out this competition on different phones at the ces
http://n4bb.com/blackberry-z30-defeats-rivals-ces

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Trent Bradford February 4, 2014 at 11:54 am

Blackberry is still the most secure device on the market I do not know about Samsung but Apple has enough lawyers on retention that is you even make a comment about an Apple product at a dinner party you get a lawyers letter.
Also be careful not to drop and IPhone you will be sorry. I have dropped my Curve on several concrete floors and even fished out of a toilet once and it still keeps going. I does have a crack in the protective shield over the display but I forgive them that as I have really abused there product.

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Jessica March 25, 2014 at 2:54 pm

I seem to remember Bill.Now it’s all wiowds and bankers from the Ivory Coast or Nigeria who somehow found my e-mail out of the friggin blue and decided they wanted to share millions of dollars with me from their dead husband’s estate, some company’s illegal activities or what not.I’m also inclined to follow through on one of these just to see how far they really think they can go.I wonder if they just have some call center type deal where they have these little children just typing these things out all day.thanks for commenting.

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