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Pentagon defends the BlackBerry

Posting in Technology
It hasn't been a good couple of years for BlackBerry, the pioneering Canadian smartphone group that has lost its lead, luster and mojo to competitors like Apple and Samsung.

But now the Pentagon has come to its defense, with plans to buy as many as 80,000 of the company's handheld devices.


The U.S. Department of Defense is about to roll out a fancy new wireless network, and the primary device it wants to use on it are BlackBerry handsets. The Pentagon plans to purchase upwards of 80,000 BlackBerrys, helping send the company’s stock sky high—it’s close to $11 a share right now, up from $5.75 six weeks ago.

Why did DOD go with the BlackBerry as opposed to, say, an Apple iPhone? Bloomberg explained:

The Defense Department isn’t picking BlackBerry just to be contrarian; concerns about data security remain at least as high as ever, and BlackBerry is further along than such competitors as Samsung (005930:KS) and Apple (AAPL) when it comes to matching the requirements set by the Pentagon.

The article states that the contract helps validate the strategy of new CEO John Chen, who wants to return the company - formerly called Research In Motion - to its roots as a vendor to corporations and other large organizations.

I like this development, maybe because I like BlackBerries. I also don't yet accept that BlackBerries are a consumer flop. Anecdotally, they're popular with all ages where I live in the U.K.

I remain a user myself. I like the tactile keyboard. And I'll give you another reason to buy one: You can get them for about a quarter of the price of one of those money suckers called an iPhone.  At least until Chen engineers a comeback, when BlackBerry could once again command a higher retail tag.

Cover photo is from M. Rehemtulla via Wikimedia

— By on January 23, 2014, 6:57 AM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure