The Department of Defense is allegedly looking to ditch BlackBerry devices in favor of Apple and Samsung handsets. With BlackBerry further plummeting into has-been territory, the DoD wants to distance itself from the struggling handset maker by moving forward with an initiative to essentially secure any mobile devices—no need to rely on BlackBerry’s services. As of now, BlackBerry devices are the only smartphone designated with an “authority to operate” title, or ATO, but a contingency plan could approve seemingly any device, no matter the platform, for use with the DoD’s systems.
In 2012, the Pentagon devised a strategy that planned to transition employees over to smartphones and tablets without favoring a particular device maker. Through a central management system, the DoD would track handhelds to better ensure no military information was compromised. In addition, the Pentagon considered introducing its own private app store, which would only be available to approved devices.
“This multi-vendor, device-agnostic approach minimizes the impact of (a) single vendor to our current operations,” said Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Damien Pickart. “DoD’s mobility strategy and commercial mobile device implementation plan includes reliance on multiple vendors to support its mobile communications needs.”
A limited pilot security management system is expected to kick off at the end of this year, with up to 300,000 government-issued consumer devices to be connected by the end of 2016; the Pentagon currently uses about 470,000 BlackBerry devices. If the Waterloo company doesn’t rebound from impending obscurity, the Pentagon could roll out a mandate that would drop BlackBerry devices from its workforce altogether. With BlackBerry turning its attention away from consumers in an effort to focus solely on enterprise customers, an end to a partnership such as this would be a huge blow.