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Pentagon clarifies tech buying policy; not dropping BlackBerry

The Department of Defense on Thursday said recent reports that it is dropping support for BlackBerry in favor of iPhones were "in error."


DoD spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told PC Magazine on Thursday that the Pentagon still counts BlackBerry among the device solutions it is planning to support. Currently working out its mobility strategy, the Pentagon has plans to equip personnel with an array of devices running BlackBerry, iOS, and Google's Android operating system.

"The Department is aware of recent reporting that asserts it is 'dropping' BlackBerry,'" Pickart said. "This reporting is in error. The Department recently released its mobility strategy and supporting implementation plan, which clarifies we are moving towards a mobile management capability that supports a variety of devices, to include BlackBerry."

Pickart also cast doubt on Wednesday's report that the Department is set to buy 650,000 iOS devices with which to replace aging mobile hardware.

"[O]ur mobility experts are looking into what has been reported," he said, "and are not familiar with the figures quoted in that report/article."

On Wednesday, Electronista released its second report in a month on purported DoD plans to move away from BlackBerry's platform. A report earlier in March held that the Pentagon was close to slashing the test budget for BlackBerry 10 in light of the federal government budget sequester.

In late February, Pickart told AppleInsider that, while the Department was indeed opening its networks to iOS and Android devices in 2014, there would be no one-size-fits-all approach to mobile technology.

"Each organization is going to have different needs," he told AppleInsider at the time. "By having a family of mobile devices from which we can choose, we'll be better able to tailor devices and offerings to organizations' needs."

The Department currently supports more than 600,000 mobile devices in use in both standard operations and pilot programs. That figure includes roughly 470,000 BlackBerry devices, about 80,000 Android devices, and 41,000 iOS devices.

Electronista, for its part, is standing by its initial assertion, citing the high placement of its source on the DoD's plans.