Pentagon Opens the Door to Ditching Blackberries for iPhones, Androids
November 1, 2012 3:53 PM
DOD insists that it still supports RIM as a platform, just is being more flexible
As embattled Canadian phonemaker Research in Motion, Ltd.'s (
) image in the consumer market has
gone down in flames
, RIM has seen its long loyal legion of
business and government users
begin to abandon it for rival's managed alternatives.
of the next generation BlackBerry 10 (BB10) platform to March 2013 and high fees, the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
(ATF), and the
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency
dropped the platform
Despite a promise from RIM to cut fees, the latest casualty appears to be the
U.S. Department of Defense
, although RIM will likely suffer a slow death at the agency, unlike the previous speedy exits. While the Pentagon emphasizes that it is still supporting BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) for secured employee smartphones -- for now -- it is now preparing what many view as an exit strategy from RIM's services.
Under the plan, third-party contractors will compete to offer secured platforms built on Google Inc.'s (
) Android and Apple, Inc.'s (
The Defense Information Systems Agency
called for an initial user base of 162,500 smartphones for a 1-year contract for device management software and support. That number could grow to 262,500 with 6-month contract extensions, if the smaller trial goes well. Eventually the deployment could swell to the 8 million devices deployed by the DoD and its partners.
But a DoD spokesperson
that it isn't abandoning RIM, for now. They commented, "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."
RIM tried to offer a cheerful spin on the news, arguing that if its handsets are abandoned, it will at least get a chance to compete for managing Android and iOS smarpthones. RIM offers a product called
BlackBerry Mobile Fusion
, which allows traditional BlackBerry Enterprise Servers (BES) to manage its rival's handsets.
But given RIM's still relatively high fees and the IT community's long-standing dislike for BES products, it may be wishful thinking for RIM to assume it can win the contract to manage its competitors' products.
To its credit, RIM is realistic in
aiming pretty low
-- it's at most hoping to establish itself as the third place phonemaker. But amid a
) RIM will be lucky if it doesn't find itself on the bottom of the pile, particularly as both the consumer and enterprise markets turn their back on its increasingly dated devices.
RIM's financial advisors have reportedly
suggested selling its handset business
now, while it retains a modicum of value, but its
appear to be opting to
ignore that expert advice
in hopes of a surprise turnaround.
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