White House Android Phone Tests Don't Signal BlackBerry's Retirement
NEWS ANALYSIS: The White House Communications Agency has started testing Android phones, but this doesn't mean President Barack Obama will have to give up his BlackBerry.The White House Communications Agency, a Pentagon unit responsible for the secure communications used by President Barack Obama and his staff, has begun testing Android phones from two manufacturers, Samsung and LG. The report, from the Wall Street Journal, says that the testing is in its earliest stages. A White House spokesperson declined to comment on this report. President Obama is legendary in his affection for BlackBerry smartphones, and an earlier attempt to shift him to a secure, custom-built smartphone that wasn't really very smart apparently failed, as the president has been seen recently still using a BlackBerry. Rumor has it that his current BlackBerry has been modified to make it secure enough for presidential use. While some, including the Journal, have suggested that this testing is the end of BlackBerry, that isn't necessarily true. In fact, just because the White House Communications Agency is testing other phones doesn't mean the president is interested in changing. It's the agency's job to test new platforms to ensure they can be made secure to White House standards and to decide if it is possible for them to be highly secure and exactly how secure.
In addition, the WHCA tests communications gear for everyone on the commander in chief's staff, whether they actually work in the White House or are part of one of the other related staffs. There are a lot of mobile phones in use in the executive branch these days, after all. Perhaps more important, the Pentagon has been conducting an ongoing series of tests on phones from a variety of makers, including Apple and Nokia, as well as on a number of Android phones and on the BlackBerry 10 platform.