Pentagon Opens Network to iOS and Android, Dealing Huge Blow to BlackBerry

The Pentagon plans to open its network to Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android platforms for the first time ever, posing a major threat to Research In Motion’s BlackBerry, reports the Washington Post.

The United States Department of Defense plans to build a system that will manage more than 160,000 Android and Apple products, including iPads. This system could expand to manage up to eight million devices.

This deals a huge blow to RIM, whose market share was cut in half in the US this year. The Pentagon is the latest in a slew of American organizations that are cutting back on BlackBerrys. Yahoo recently banned the Canadian smartphone because it wasn’t considered cool. And many US citizens are now embarrassed to own BlackBerrys.

The system, which will be built through contractors, may not include management of RIM devices. The Defense Department says that, while it “desires” a system capable of handling BlackBerrys, that is not a necessary requirement for contractors to include.

UPDATE: Reuters reports that a contract will be awarded in April. And in an effort to stay relevant to the Pentagon, RIM has suggested its Fusion service as a solution.

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