Pentagon Invites Bids For iPhone Security But Will Still Back BlackBerry

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined
as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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US Military will still use BlackBerrys despite inviting bids for iPhone security software

The Pentagon has said it will still use BlackBerry smartphones despite making moves to let US Military staff use iOS and Android devices.

BlackBerrys will still be offered to US Department of Defense staff, but it has now invited companies to submit bids to provide software that can monitor, manage and enforce security requirements for iPhones and Android smartphones.

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) posted the invitation for proposals last week, with a view to awarding a contract in April. The software would initially manage at least 162,500 devices but could grow to 262,500 by the end of the one-year contract, which includes provisions for four six-month extensions. The ultimate aim is to support eight million devices.

Pentagon BlackBerry use

BlackBerrys have long been favoured by the US Department of Defense, as well as other government agencies, as they meet their strict security requirements. However, this advantage has become less pronounced as security standards have improved in rival platforms and BlackBerrys have become increasingly undesirable to consumers and businesses.

Last month, the US Immigration and Customers Enforcement Agency (ICE) announced it was going to end its contract with RIM and supply its 17,600 employees with iPhones in an order estimated to be worth around $2.1 million (£1.3 million).

ICE said that although it had relied on RIM for eight years, the BlackBerry platform was no longer suitable for its needs. The iPhone was chosen as it offers a secure and manageable platform with tight controls on the operating system.

Earlier this year, the General Services Administration (GSA), the US government’s main procurement agency, announced its decision to provide iPhones and Android devices to its employees.

The loss of another contract is a blow to RIM, whose market share has plummeted in recent times, although the company hopes that the release of smartphones running the BlackBerry 10 operating system will reverse its fortunes.

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