US DoD rumored to be dumping BlackBerry and purchasing 650,000 Apple devices (updated)

US DoD set to dump BlackBerry and purchase 650,000 Apple devices

The US Department of Defense is currently testing various Apple iOS devices and on completion of the tests is rumored to be purchasing 650,000 iOS devices. The iPhones, iPod touches, and iPads would replace existing BlackBerry handsets that can’t run the new Blackberry 10 software. The report comes from Electronista who has claims source familiar with the situation.

Following completion of the first phases of the project, as well as a few other initiatives coming to fruition, the Department of Defense will be ordering just over 650,000 iOS devices from the Cupertino manufacturer following conclusion of the sequester.

Previous reports had revealed that the testing program had cut out BlackBerry 10 devices in an effort to save money. While the testing program is still underway, our well-placed sources familiar with the matter have told us that "some of the needs can't wait" and as soon as the sequester was over, the order would be placed.

The 650,000 devices are reportedly 120,000 iPads, 100,000 iPad minis, 200,000 iPod touches and the final 230,000 would be made up of various current iPhone models. The new iOS devices would be distributed around the world, some to battlefields, some onboard ships and of course within the Pentagon.

It was widely known that older, J2ME based BlackBerryOS devices would not be upgradeable to BlackBerry 10, creating an opportunity for organizations to cross-grade rather than upgrade. Security is no doubt a consideration in the sale, because let's face it, news of the deal may have leaked...

If this report proves to be accurate, Apple taking this business from BlackBerry would be huge feather in Apple’s cap and one we are sure to hear a lot more about in the future.

Update: Air Force Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a spokesman for the Pentagon’s new mobility initiative spoke to Wired, dismissing the story from Electronista.

“We are not looking to replace those 470,000 BlackBerries with the systems they claim we’re looking to order.” “Every couple weeks, there’s another report that we’re abandoning BlackBerries, and that is just so far from the truth,” Pickart adds.

Source: Electronista, Wired

chrisoldroyd

UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

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Reader comments

US DoD rumored to be dumping BlackBerry and purchasing 650,000 Apple devices (updated)

44 Comments

I'm somewhat shocked. From my limited knowledge, I know iOS is definitely more user-friendly and synced between all iOS and OSX devices; however, I thought BB was more..secure. I figured governments would flock to it. Does it have a flaw, or has iOS caught up to BB in this area?

No, neither Android nor iPhones are as secure as the Blackberry. From what it sounds is that their choosing Apple simply to save money.

The cost isn't cheaper when you factor in an MDM solution to manage the devices. MDM solutions are often more costly when it comes to licensing devices and in some cases more than double the cost of BES licensing.

"The news comes from Electronista who has a source familiar with the situation"

Ok, let's see if this will be true or just some link-bait.

Is the cost that different when you take into consideration network deals?
But then again, granted that they're only going for a limited number of iPhones and are looking at iPad and iPod touch as other devices, those do come cheaper and can function with apps, etc. and BlackBerry doesn't really have an alternative to both iPad and iPod touch right now! (The iteration of playbook in the market can be one consideration but its dated and there is yet no news of the next release of PB, additionally how successful is BB 10 really... That's another question that's still pending, IMO)

Ditching some blackberrys for iPod touch among other devices? I can understand iPhone( Not really. It offers lower security), but iPod touch?

No source? Hmm is this the new bgrimore?
Or rather the source has a secret source. Same BS!
Kevin you might want to check on your buddy here!

Its a blog, they just repeat the same stories that are on every other site. If it turns out not to be true, well the report they reported on was wrong... not them.

Hopefully, this is a MobileNation site ...
Well, some (friendly) remarks :
1. So far there's no confirmation about this and a CB member - actually a DOD employee - is checking this, I believe. To be continued ...
2. There's no doubt apple devices can enter such an administration. Not all its users require the level of security that is *undoubtedly* the sole BB property (see US certifications). That said, it's unfair to make a link between this - rumored - ditch and iOs/BB security comparison (and I won't enter this field on a technical point). This is nowhere a valid demonstration.
3. The cost argument let me doubtful; to me an ip5 is the same price (or even more expensive) than a Z10
4. Also, how do you ditch a smatphone to replace it with a tablet or a multimedia device ? Strange 1 for 1 count there ... count the iphones (i.e: almost the third), not the whole thing.
5. Finally, a "rumor" tag, somewhere could be very welcome, instead/beside your affirmative title.

So, enjoy the rumor for apple !
But please, don't shoot BB with unverified/rumored statements and -hum- approximative reasoning ...

I can see the security side of it, the UK declined current versions of BB10 due to lack of security. They don't meet a certain standard of security as the old devices did but blackberry is working on fixing so the UK government will buy them. The German government has gone ahead and bought them. But everyone knows the US doesn't like to wait, so instead of waiting, hopefully, a short time for blackberry to correct the security issues they are just dumping them and going iOS. I can see it, but I'd like to see it confirmed or denied as well.

Uh, no they didn't. There was a story with a lack of research done. They came out and said what really happened though. It's still being tested. I guess they upped the standards and it's a really long testing process, they simply haven't had enough time to test BB10

If this is true, then congrats to Apple for successfully moving the DoD's favor towards them. Wether it be more costly or not I am sure they have their reasons to change specifically to Apple products. The test and procedures that the devices go through take time. I guess taking that into perspective, in time we shall know what they finally decide.

Folks, the article's title even reads "US DOD rumored to b dumping Blackberry..." Rumored. 'Nuff said.

It would be a damn shame if the DOD actually went with a device that is not as secure as the BlackBerry is just to save a few bucks. I could understand a consumer making a switch but definately not DOD. I hope this "rumor" never see's true light.

BlackBerry user by choice..

Save bucks how though? Are iPhones and iPads plus the cost of switching systems suddenly cheaper that blackberry phones? These are the kind of obvious questions that never seem to be addressed in reports on reports of rumors like these.

All I can say is that if the Department Of Defense is getting ready to contract Apple for their devices, This is just another example of the power of Apple and it's platform. If the DOD thinks the IOS platform is good enough moving away from BlackBerry then it sort of also behind the scenes tells us where Apple is headed although this would be a special security laden platform for them built from the ground up, Hopefully with no security flaw on the lock screen to get in past the Passcode.

I'm actually not surprised. I work for the DoD, not at the pentagon mind you, but alot of the officers I work with carry their DoD issued Blackberry and an iPhone. They hate carrying both. However with this furlough going on I doubt any of our people will be getting an iPhone, iPad or iTouch anytime soon.

While anything is possible, I doubt that this is true. I was at the Blackberry Forum event last month in DC and with a few DoD IT guys there. They have already upgraded to BES 10 and were testing the Z10. Plus with budget cuts I don't think Apple devices would look good in anyone's budget right now. If I can get Z10s for $150 for my 40 or so users, imagine what kind of deal the DoD is getting. There are no advantages for the DoD to switch to iPhones other than making their users happy. I've never heard of anyone leaving there nice government job because they couldn't get an iPhone.

Kudos Chris. Thank you for the fair adaptation.
(This comment is issued after some modifications have been made in the article, just to be clear. See my previous comment if unsure)

iPod touches? What are you going to do with that at DoD? Listen to music? Not sure how those will come into play and will probably never find out

I don't think any of these units are totally 100% secure, but if they were using dated technology, it's not surprising that they wanted to update that.

It seems to me the move would be more based off of the capabilities of the platform and the ability to quickly develop apps for it. It is a lot easier to develop an iOS app than it is a BB10 app and not to mention that there infinitely more iOS developers than there are BB developers. Makes sense from a long term strategy stand point.
Hopefully this does happen so that Apple can be held to a higher standard and start implementing some additional corporate related security functions to the platform beyond a passcode. The DoD is just the group to demand such features and force Apple to deliver.

"It is a lot easier to develop an iOS app than it is a BB10 app " Really? That's not the going story from BB developers that post in here. I'm not one so I don't honestly know, but from everything I've read, I think saying "It is a lot easier" is a bit of a misleading comment.

When you are porting an already developed Android app over to BB10 then yes that is pretty easy but when you are talking about developing the app from the ground up its easier and you can re-use it across many more devices on the iOS platform.

QUESTION: Why is iMore reposting this article, which is mentioned on various other cites, and not the one about the rumoured iPhone 5s that will only have an upgraded processor and camera???

Blackberry has a problem with DoD. While it did CAC encryption/decryption for email -- it has never been able to authenticate to CAC enabled web sites. Blackberry 10 did nothing to change this. Blackberry has rested on the paradigm that the organization owned, issued and controlled the entire phone. But forward thinking organizations are thinking BYOD for the future and how to secure it. Currently using things like MDM, Fixmo Sentinel, CAC identity authentication, and other measures are needed to make BYOD possible. Blackberry 10 has introduced Blackberry Balance and Blackberry Fusion, but these are not backward compatible with current Blackberry phones. Good Technologies was pioneered by the Army and has passed DoD security and can provide CAC enabled access to Apple and Android phones. Good Technologies has Good Vault that can enable access to CAC enabled sites and Good Dynamics can help control applications. There is thus a secure way to use Apple and Android phones but not Blackberry for the future. No wonder the DoD and the rest of the government are thinking of dumping Blackberry. Besides, Blackberry forces all communications to go through foreign (Canadian based) servers --- how secure is that?