Pentagon opening door to the iPhone, challenging BlackBerry dominance

The Pentagon will start issuing iPhones and Android devices, in addition to BlackBerrys, to its employees and military personnel. The Department of Defense will build out their system to prepare for 162,000 devices with the ability to accommodate up to 8 million phones and tablets should the need arise. RIM’s BlackBerry devices have long been used by the federal government, but as the use of iOS and Android devices rise, the Pentagon is looking to diversify, though they have no plans of dropping BlackBerry device support. The Washington Post reports:

The Pentagon wants to allow employees to access its network with a broader range of mobile devices so it can “take advantage of the increasing wireless capabilities that exist and that are developing in the marketplace,” according to the contracting document.

While the Defense Department is not insisting that contractors propose systems that can manage RIM devices, it “desires” a system that can also handle BlackBerrys, the document stated.

RIM claims that its devices were left off of the requirements list because a BlackBerry system is already in place to manage those devices, and therefore a new system is not needed for BlackBerrys. However, there is no question that this move is not good for RIM. Given a capacity for 8 million devices, the Pentagon will be prepared for its employees to switch to iOS and Android from BlackBerry when the system comes online. While RIM claims that its share among federal employees is growing, this is probably due more to the shrinking number of employees in the federal government than higher adoption rates of BlackBerrys. After all, the BlackBerry has been the dominant device family in government for a long time, and employees might not wish to switch to a new device after using the same one for so long. We will get a better picture of RIM’s place in government as agencies open up device use. The Pentagon’s program will begin sometime after the contract is awarded in April 2013.

Source: The Washington Post