Update: A Department of Defense spokesperson emailed us today to set the record straight. Here’s what he had to say:
The department is aware of recent reporting that asserts it is ‘dropping’ BlackBerry. 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. As clarified in the recent release of our Commercial Mobile Device Implementation Plan, we are working towards establishing a multi-vendor environment in support of the DoD mobility strategy.
The Commercial Mobile Device Implementation Plan updates the June 2012 Mobile Strategy with specific objectives and puts the strategy into action. A key objective of the plan is to establish a department-wide mobile enterprise solution that permits the use of the latest commercial technology such as smart phones and tablets, and the development of an enterprise mobile device management capability and application store to support approximately 100,000 multivendor devices by February 2014. DoD currently has more than 600,000 Commercial Mobile Devices in operational and pilot use, including 470,000 Blackberries, 41,000 Apple Operating Systems and 8,700 Android Systems.
The original article continues below.
Apparently, the US Department of Defense has finished up a mobile device testing program, and has put together a pending purchase order for Apple’s iOS devices, according to a report at Electronista today. While the order won’t happen until after the government sequester, it will include just over 650,000 iOS mobile devices from Apple.
The report also says that while Blackberry 10 devices were originally part of the plan, they’ve been cut to save money. However, Electronista also reports that “sources familiar with the matter” say that the department’s needs for mobile devices can’t wait, so the order will move forward after the sequester.
The final breakdown of devices, according to the report, shows 120,000 iPads, 100,000 iPad minis, 200,000 iPod touches, with the other 210,000 devices planned as various iPhone models. Specific capacities and hardware capabilities were not part of the report, but will likely be available when the order actually goes through.
The sources do report that over half of the planned iOS devices “are headed to the battlefield, afloat, and to associated support commands. Most of the rest will stay [at the Pentagon].”
A different source “familiar with the situation” said that the iOS devices were ment to replace alost all of the older BlackBerry devices that are now incompatible with newer Blackberry 10 software. Some statistics show that of the 470,000 BlackBerry devices currently in use by the US Department of Defense, none of them use the new BlackBerry 10 OS.
New technology purchases in the US government have been pared back due to the sequester, and Dell and Google are reporting increased service calls to US government offices. Many hardware purchases have only been delayed, not cancelled, but the sequester is affecting IT budgets at a higher rate than other areas of government spending, says the report.