White House ditching BlackBerry for Android devices?

Saqib Shah
March 21, 2014

US President Barack Obama’s next phone could well be a Samsung Galaxy S5 or an LG G Flex.

According to the WSJ, the White House is testing smartphones from  Samsung and  LG  for internal use, threatening one of the last and most high-profile strongholds of  BlackBerry.

The devices are being tested by the White House’s internal technology team and the White House Communications Agency, a military unit in charge of President  Barack Obama’s communications, a source told the publication.

The tests are in the early stages, the person said, and any implementation of Samsung or LG phones is still “months away.” There was, however, no confirmation that Obama is switching from his modified BlackBerry.

“We can confirm that the White House Communications Agency, consistent with the rest of the Department of Defense, is piloting and using a variety of mobile devices,” a Defense Department spokesman said. He declined to comment on the devices in the pilot test or in use at the White House.

A Samsung spokesman declined to comment on whether its phones were being tested at the White House. “We have seen strong interest from the government sector and are working closely with various agencies to deploy pilot programmes,” he said.

An LG spokesman said the company wasn’t aware of such testing.

Blackberry, on the other hand, claims that only it can  meet the high-security needs of US and allied government agencies.

Obama, who has stated in the past that he uses an  Apple  iPad for reading, may have been disappointed to learn that Apple is not part of the testing programme.

Apple for the past few years has been chipping away at BlackBerry’s once-dominant position in the government sector, however, and  Samsung has invested  heavily to win more government customers.

BlackBerry’s loss of government users comes as the company has also suffered losses among consumers more broadly. BlackBerry once had roughly half of the North American smartphone market, but now makes up just 0.6% of that market, according to research firm IDC.

But the manufacturer is determined to change that. Over the last several months, BlackBerry  has undergone a broad  executive overhaul  and cost-cutting programme.

The company’s new Chief Executive, John Chen, has said that winning back government customers is a top priority. As a result, BlackBerry is opening a “security innovation center” in the Washington DC area later this year.


About the Author

Saqib Shah

Tech/gaming journalist for What Mobile magazine and website. Interests include film, digital media and foreign affairs.

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