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US government won't abandon BlackBerry, says the Washington Post

US government won't abandon BlackBerry, says the Washington Post


The Washington Post reports on the federal workers in Washington still relying on their BlackBerry handsets.

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While RIM's status as an innovator in the consumer space may be in tatters, it's a whole other story within the city limits of Washington, DC. The Washington Post reports that around half a million federal workers, including President Obama, are still glued to their BlackBerrys — whether by choice or slow-moving bureaucracy. Obama was famously besotted with his BlackBerry during the 2008 presidential campaign, but soon admitted that owning it had become "no fun" due to the White House's stringent security requirements that meant only ten people could email him.

"We appreciate RIM's focus on security, which is paramount for government use."

That's not quite the reason many other workers in Washington are resenting their handsets, though, with many of them reportedly wanting to upgrade to other smartphones for the larger screens or app selection. Casey Coleman, chief information officer at the General Services Administration (GSA), explains that the government "appreciates RIM's focus on security," which is why the majority of phones handed out by the agency come from the manufacturer.

It's worth noting, of course, that there is a diehard fan base that swears by the company's keyboards, messenger service, and email support, and wouldn't want to change even given the option. Switching to other platforms would also prove expensive, as besides the higher cost of other handsets themselves the government would have to splash out on rebuilding its tech support structure. Last year's major global service blackout can't have supported the GSA's position, however, and Coleman admits that the agency prioritizes the adoption of new technologies "where appropriate." It remains to be seen if and when that will ever apply to its contracts with RIM.