The U.S. Defense Department will allow employees to use government-issued Apple devices running iOS6, it announced Friday, another possible knock against BlackBerry’s exclusivity in the American military.
The move follows the DoD’s decision to allow Samsung devices controlled by its Knox operating system as well as BlackBerrys.
Although not unexpected, the decision is a graphic example of the force of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement, which in part has cost BlackBerry market share. The message is that some platforms can be made as secure as the once-vaunted BlackBerry for many functions.
However, industry analyst Rob Enderle says the decisions don’t mean that iOS6 and Knox Android are considered equal to BlackBerry. “Like a lot of things in government, it means you’re allowed,” he said in an interview, “it doesn’t mean you’re favoured.”
In fact, he believes its likely BlackBerrys will continue to be the Pentagon’s standard for staff handling very secure voice and data.
What the DoD’s Defense Information Systems Agency has done is approve a security technical implementation guide for iOS6, Android and BlackBerry devices in current mobility pilots and on the Pentagon’s future mobile device management platform. That platform will likely be chosen in the summer.
“All of these pieces must be in place to allow the secure use of commercial mobile devices on department networks,” Mark Orndorff, DISA information assurance executive and program executive officer for mission assurance and network operations, said in a statement.
DISA officials said the Pentagon wants to build multivendor mobile environment. Actual orders for devices will be tied to specific operational requirements and funding availability of each branch of the military.
The ultimate goal is a mobile device management platform and application store to support about 100,000 devices February 2014.
The Defense Department has more than 600,000 commercial mobile devices in operational and pilot use, including about 470,000 BlackBerrys, 41,000 Apple operating system devices and 8,700 Android operating system devices.