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ICE gives BlackBerry 10 a chance with pilot program

Research In Motion (RIM) just announced that it will begin a pilot program with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Homeland Security Department, for the BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 as well as BlackBerry 10 smart phones starting in early 2013. The pilot will be shortly after RIM’s launch announcement of BB10 on January 30.

This seems to be a reversal on mobile device management for ICE, which in October announced a plan to procure monthly cellular service for iPhones for its 17,600 employees. At the time, I wrote that it did seem odd that any agency would put all (or most) of its user eggs in the same mobile-device basket. And now we find out that ICE is in fact keeping its options open.

BlackBerry for years was the dominant mobile device among public-sector users, but it has lost some ground as agencies and bring-your-own-device users have brought Apple iPhones and Android devices into their enterprises. The shift has been great enough that some observers have even written BlackBerry off as a viable smart phone.

But as we reported last month, the improvements in BlackBerry 10 are quite significant and seem tailored for public-sector use, with the integrated messaging center and separated work- and personal-user profiles. RIM even got its FIPS 140-2 certification lined up ahead of BB10’s Jan. 30 launch, which is a first for the company.

It’ll be interesting to see if ICE’s move signals a trend, for some agencies at least, back toward BlackBerry.

Some agencies might already be too far down the path in their switch to iOS or Android, such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But for other agencies, such as ICE, BB10 might come just in time.

"Along with providing workers with secure access to behind-the-firewall confidential information, BlackBerry 10 can help organizations fully leverage the potential of mobile technology to offer new services, improve service delivery and increase organizational productivity,” Scott Totzke, RIM’s senior vice president for BlackBerry Security, said in a statement.

Posted by Greg Crowe on Dec 13, 2012 at 9:39 AM


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