BlackBerry still enjoys a number of government smartphone contracts, but a new Android device forthcoming from Boeing might threaten that relationship. The aviation giant copped to development of a secure smartphone last year, but now the so-called “Boeing Black” has hit the FCC (via Myce), providing a little more background.
The Boeing Black is designed to be “sold primarily to government agencies and companies engaged in contractual activities with those agencies that are related to defense and homeland security. The device will be marketed and sold in a manner such that low-level technical and operational information about the product will not be provided to the general public,” according to the FCC filing, so it’s definitely not something like the Blackphone from Silent Circle and Geeksphone, which is aimed more at keeping privacy-conscious general consumers secure.
It is, however, a clear stab at the core of BlackBerry’s remaining U.S. market share. The Canadian smartphone maker just announced a new contract with the Pentagon to provide 80,000 new BlackBerry phones to Department of Defense employees in a rollout that began January 31, meaning it’s still far and away the provider of choice when it comes to U.S. secure government agencies.
Samsung is trying to crack that market, too, with its KNOX software and new marketplace, designed to be used on BYOD devices. That’s still not nearly as robust an offering as BlackBerry’s devices, however, and also a far cry from what Boeing looks to be offering with its new dual-SIM, LTE powered ultra classified smartphone kit. Still, Samsung clearly wants to move in that direction and is evolving its approach to help make that happen.
For now, BlackBerry is hanging on to its choice role as the smartphone platform of choice for use in sensitive enterprise settings, but that’s unlikely to last forever unless it can turn around other parts of its business. Banking on being the next major platform provider for industries that require heightened security is a smart move, but we’ll have to wait and see how far exactly Boeing has gone with the Black before heralding it as the new king of smart, secret mobile.
Here’s a shorthand version of where the offerings mentioned above fit relative to one another, for those keeping track at home:
- KNOX: BYOD security for enterprise users who don’t want two devices and aren’t necessarily working with national secrets.
- Blackphone: Smartphone for the paranoid consumer, who’s willing to pay a little extra and sign up for subscription services in exchange for privacy peace of mind. Snowden-inspired.
- Boeing Black: Potentially self-destructing James Bond phone that lets communication in, but keeps spies out. Also Snowden-inspired in all likelihood, but from the opposite direction.