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Report: White House testing alternatives to BlackBerry

updated 12:14 am EDT, Fri March 21, 2014

Could President Obama finally jump ship to Android, iPhone?

Adding insult to injury over BlackBerry's ongoing slide into oblivion, a US Department of Defense spokesperson has confirmed that "the White House Communications Agency, consistent with the rest of the Department of Defense, is piloting and using a variety of mobile devices" as a possible replacement for BlackBerry devices. Initial reports suggest Android devices are currently being tested, but not iPhones at this time.

The program does not necessarily mean that the White House is considering dumping BlackBerry, and its Z3 and Q20 phones are likely to be among the models considered for upgrading. However, with no sign of recovery for the beleaguered Canadian smartphone maker, the DoD is likely testing alternatives in the expectation of an eventual need to migrate, or to make more options available for WH employees that can pass muster with the security settings needed for that environment.

President Obama himself has been a long-time fan of BlackBerry phones, talking extensively about his dependence on them since before he was elected to office. For other uses, however, the President seems to be an Apple user, using MacBook Pros and iPads in public and in his office. He has said that his children also use Apple products, and once gave Queen Elizabeth II an iPod filled with music (he himself carries a modified BlackBerry model for official duties). It isn't known whether the testing by the DoD-run communications office will have any effect on what mobile device he will carry with him going forward.

Samsung has confirmed that it is involved with pilot programs at various government agencies, once BlackBerry's strongest hold in the US marketplace. The BB platform still has wide support among some agencies, but is fading alongside a move by consumers to replace BlackBerry devices with Android or iPhone models.

"For more than a decade, BlackBerry has been securing the US government's mobile communications, and only BlackBerry is designed to meet the high-security needs of US and allied government agencies," a BlackBerry spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal. The company, which at one point had roughly half of the North American smartphone market, now controls only 0.6 percent of it, according to figures from tech analysts IDC.

by MacNN Staff



  1. prl99

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 03-24-09

    There's only one Android phone, a specially configure Samsung model, that has been approved for government use. iPhones have already been approved, at least for unclassified use. I don't believe the Samsung phone has been approved for classified use. I know they are testing various phones to make sure they comply with government purchasing requirements but anyone who knows anything about Android phones knows there's no way they'll be approved because of lack of support and the tremendous amount of malware running on them.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    You're probably right, but the Wall Street Journal said in their original report that LG phones were also being tested (but this was unconfirmed when LG was asked about it, so we didn't include it in the report). Any phone the President of the US is going to carry is going to be very modified from a consumer version, regardless of brand.

  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: 11-15-06

    I am sure the President can wirelessly launch nuclear missile from his modified mobile phone on his comfortable couch.

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