BlackBerry and Samsung devices have been given the go-ahead for use on Defense Department networks. The approved devices are BlackBerry 10 smartphones, BlackBerry PlayBook tablets using the Enterprise Service 10 system and Samsung’s Android Knox. The Pentagon said earlier this week that it also expects to clear Apple devices using iOS 6 in early May.
Pentagon spokesman Lt Col Damien Pickart said in a statement that “this is a significant step towards establishing a multi-vendor environment that supports a variety of state-of-the-art devices and operating systems.” He added that the approval of BlackBerry and Samsung devices does not mean product orders would be placed. Instead, it allows user groups within the Pentagon to select those devices.
In February, the Pentagon initiated an effort to broaden its approved mobile devices so the military can access the latest communications technology and is not dependent on just one equipment vendor. The Pentagon’s initiative to diversify its roster of electronics led to a report that it was in process of phasing out almost all of the BlackBerries used by its employees, which the Pentagon denied.
The Department of Defense’s plans do mean, however, that BlackBerry now faces much more competition for the Pentagon’s 600,000 mobile users. The department currently has 470,000 BlackBerry users. There are also 41,000 Apple users and 8,700 Android users, most of whom are currently participating in pilot or test programs.