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November 1, 2012

Pentagon to continue to use BlackBerry smartphones

RIM has lost the contract from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency

By CBR Staff Writer

The Pentagon is considering further deployment of BlackBerry phones, even though it is planning to open its network up to the use of Apple iPhones and devices running Google’s Android OS.

During late October, the US Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) invited firms to submit bids for software capable of monitoring, controlling and enforcing security requirements for devices made by Apple and Google, with expected contract awarded in April 2013.

Previously, BlackBerry maker RIM lost its contract with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency which claimed that BlackBerry no longer meets its technology requirements and revealed its transformation to Apple’s iPhone.

RIM’s losing of Pentagon business to other providers marks the latest blow to hit the ailing mobile firm, which had once led the smartphone market but has since lost marker share to Apple and Samsung’s devices.

A DISA spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying: "DISA is managing an enterprise email capability that continues to support large numbers of RIM devices while moving forward with the department’s planned mobile management capability that will support a variety of mobility devices."

The Pentagon has relied on BlackBerry phones for about eight years as RIM met its tough security requirements, but other companies have been enhancing security on their devices, while military commanders have been asking to use rival devices featuring bigger touchscreens with faster browsers.

DISA’s RFP report revealed that the software would control as a minimum 162,500 devices initially, with further rise to 262,500 by the end of the contract, which comprises a one-year base and four six-month options.

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RIM is also planning to release new smartphones powered by the BlackBerry 10 operating system which is claimed to offer enhanced user interface and several smartphone applications.

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