Reports yesterday morning said that the United States Department of Defense (DoD) has ended support for its employees’ BlackBerry devices. However, the DoD has averted a crisis for BlackBerry by saying that those reports were erroneous.
“The department is aware of recent reporting that asserts it is 'dropping' BlackBerry. This reporting is in error. The department recently released its mobility strategy and supporting implementation plan, which clarifies we are moving towards a mobile management capability that supports a variety of devices, to include BlackBerry,” Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, an official DoD spokesman, told PCMag.
Earlier this month, there were reports that the Pentagon had cut down its testing budget for BlackBerry 10, the newly released operating system for BlackBerry smartphones. These reports said that the Pentagon’s move was in order to “save millions in procurement and personnel costs.” On Wednesday, Electronista reported it had learned from unnamed sources within the DoD that the department planned to order more than 650,000 iOS devices from Apple, including 210,000 iPhones, 120,000 iPads, 100,000 iPad minis and 200,000 iPod touch PMPs.
Room enough for both of them
However, Pickart said there was no plan to place such a large order for devices from Apple, or at least one that he was aware of. “Our mobility experts are looking into what has been reported and are not familiar with the figures quoted in that (Electronista) report,” he said.
So essentially, Pickart is saying if DoD employees want an iPhone or an Android, they can have those and also use a BlackBerry device if they so desired. The DoD currently supports more than 600,000 mobile devices and according to the spokesman, the breakdown of various devices is 470,000 BlackBerry devices, 41,000 iOS devices and 8,700 Android devices.
The DoD is also working on a department-wide enterprise solution that will make it more easy for its employees to use any smartphone or tablet they wish to, regardless of the platform. Pickart said one of the objectives of the DoD is “the development of an enterprise mobile device management capability and application store to support approximately 100,000 multivendor devices by February 2014.”
BlackBerry responded with the following statement: “Our work with the U.S. Department of Defense is going well and the U.S. Department of Defense is moving forward with testing of BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 and the new BlackBerry Z10 smartphone. We are currently working with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and anticipate Security Technical Implementation Guides (STIG) and Security Requirement Guide (SRG) approval for the BlackBerry Device Service, BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry PlayBook by early April. 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.“
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