BlackBerry Wins One, Loses Two – Government Contracts in Jeopardy

BlackBerry Wins One, Loses Two – Government Contracts in JeopardyBlackBerry hasn’t had the easiest run over the past 12-months to say the least, but it looked as though things were well and truly on the road to recovery when the first wave of BlackBerry 10 handsets launched in the UK and Canada last month.

Generally speaking, both consumer and critical acclaim was high and early skepticism seemed to have been all but wiped out. The BlackBerry Z10 proved to be a firm favorite and the new OS was deemed a winner – BlackBerry’s potential swansong was looking like its saving grace after all.

And just to bolster the efforts of CEO Thorsten Heins and his loyal legions, the Canadian company announced just this week that an order has been secured by one of its closest partners for one million Smartphones. They didn’t go so far as to reveal the name or the location of said partner, or whether all of the million on order would be exclusively the Z10. However, the fact that Smartphones have such a short life cycle means that the biggest numbers have to be shipped very early on, meaning that whichever carrier ordered a million of the things clearly expects to be able to shift them fast.

All in all, a pretty good run for a company most were ready to kiss goodbye to.

Sadly however, the good tiding appear to have screeched to a halt in a manner Heins and Co. would probably have preferred to avoid.

Earlier this week, word began to spread of BlackBerry losing a potentially huge client in the form of the US Defense Department, which has announced plans to take up both iOS and Android devices in enormous numbers in the near future. All in all, the mover will see over 650,000 new devices bought from other manufacturers – primarily Apple – as the Pentagon’s current BlackBerry arsenal is not compatible with BlackBerry 10.

Over the course of its years in business, government clients have formed much of the backbone of BlackBerry’s global success and was hoped to once again play a key role in bringing BlackBerry 10 to success.

And the bad news doesn’t end there – just today we’re hearing of a similar situation on the other side of the pond, where Heins and Co. are again at risk of using a huge corporate client. Across the water in Britain, the Communications-Electronics Security Group takes care of assessing whether any given IT product or service is of the caliber and safety required to be used by the various offices of the UK government.

Unfortunately, BlackBerry 10 has been declared unsuitable and has therefore not been cleared for use – previous BlackBerrys having been crucial devices for UK government offices.

If the decision is upheld, BlackBerry stands to lose millions of dollars in both purchases and long-term revenues, not to mention the kind of reputation boost that could have meant so much as such a crucial time.

Never one to lie down and play dead however, BlackBerry has already hit back at the decision stating that it is more a case of the CESG moving the goalposts than BlackBerry 10 missing the mark. Upon the ruling, BlackBerry release the following statement:

“We have a long-established relationship with CESG and we remain the only mobile solution approved for use at ‘Restricted’ when configured in accordance with CESG guidelines. This level of approval only comes following a process which is rigorous and absolutely necessary given the highly confidential nature of the communications being transmitted.”

“The current re-structuring of this approval process, due to the Government Protective Marking Scheme review and the new CESG Commercial Product Assurance scheme has an impact on the timeline for BlackBerry 10 to receive a similar level of approval. The U.S. government’s FIPS 140-2 certification of BlackBerry 10 and the selection of BlackBerry 10 by the German Procurement Office and Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) underline how our new platform continues to set the standard for government communications.”

“We are continuing to work closely with CESG on the approval of BlackBerry 10 and we’re confident that BlackBerry 10 will only strengthen our position as the mobile solution of choice for the U.K. government.”

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