BlackBerry will soon lose its domination over the Pentagon, as the U.S. Defense Department announced on Tuesday, Feb. 26 that it will now permit the use of phones and tablets made by Apple and Google on its classified network as well.
The ruling goes into effect Feb. 2014.
Currently more than 450,000 BlackBerry devices are in use at the Pentagon, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The new plan signals further difficulties BlackBerry has been having recently, with shares lost to recent years' influx of new competitors in the mobile/device industry.
BlackBerry shares fell 19 cents, or 1.4 percent, to close at $13.06. BlackBerry hopes to boost sales with the release of its Z10 next month.
To ensure that its employees will be afforded the flexibility to employ a vaster array of devices, the Pentagon has gone one step further than the permitting of Apple and Google products on its classified network. A new contractor has been hired, with the goal of creating a network that will support eight million such devices.
The Pentagon is also creating its own military app store.
"This is not simply about embracing the newest technology — it is about keeping the department's workforce relevant in an era when information accessibility and cybersecurity play a critical role in mission success," Teri Takai, the department's chief information officer, said in a statement.
There are more than 600,000 total devices in use at the Pentagon at the current time, with 41,000 of those being Apple products and 8,700 running on Android, according to Takai's statement. The new plan will allow for these products to be used for classified communications in the Pentagon.
Major General Robert Wheeler, a Defense Department deputy chief information officer, says implementation of the plan will affect "a broad range of mobile device users, from the chairman and planners on the Joint Chiefs of Staff to policymakers and soldiers on the battlefield."
In order for the plan to go into full effect, the Defense Department is requesting proposals from mobile companies for the creation of a "mobile device management platform." The platform will require a variety of security features, of course including detecting malware and ensuring that officials can remotely delete data from their devices.
Takai believes the plan will "align the various mobile devices, pilots and initiatives across the department under common objectives to ensure the war fighter benefits from these activities."
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