BlackBerry 10 Gets FIPS-Certified, as RIM Hustles Ahead of Launch

RIM's BlackBerry 10 smartphones are its first to be FIPS-certified ahead of launch, suggesting RIM's hurry for some good news and a quick launch.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has taken a new step toward retaining the interest of its key users, and it hurries to get its long-overdue new BlackBerry 10 platform to market. On Nov. 8, RIM announced that BlackBerry 10 had received Federal Information Processing Standard certification, making it the first BlackBerry product to be FIPS-certified ahead of launch.

The certification means that BlackBerry 10 is "ready to meet the strict security requirements of government agencies and enterprises at launch," Michael K. Brown, RIM vice president of Security Product Management and Research, said in a Nov. 8 statement.

"What differentiates BlackBerry is that it integrates end-to-end security and includes certified encryption algorithms for data at rest and data in transit," Brown added. "No other mobile solution has achieved the level of security accreditation that the BlackBerry solution has."

BlackBerry 10 is an entirely new platform—one that will feel modern and fresh and create new efficiencies for users, though in ways that will enable current users to adapt without missing a beat, RIM promises—and will run on new smartphones with improved keypads, advanced touch-screens, or both.

This all takes time, however—much more time than RIM expected, as the release has been pushed back twice—and so the company finds itself in the position of promising that something monumental is coming in the first quarter of 2013 and hoping that current customers will be patient for a few more months.

Once a smartphone market leader, RIM continues to lose market share to Apple's iPhone and Android-running smartphones. According to a Nov. 8 report from Canalys, RIM's market share fell to 4.2 percent during the third quarter—down from nearly 10 percent a year ago—while Samsung increased its share to 32 percent and Apple claimed 15.5 percent.

Even customers in regulated industries such as government—once RIM's uncontested bread and butter—have lost patience or interest in the older BlackBerry handsets and have moved on.

The Pentagon, for the first time, has agreed to support Android and Apple devices, as well as BlackBerry smartphones, the Washington Post reported Oct. 28.

Days earlier, The New York Times spread the news that Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting company with 25,000 employees who provide services to the U.S. Army, the Department of Homeland Security and the Navy, among other government agencies, had begun decommissioning its BlackBerry server.

This week, Pacific Crest Securities analyst James Faucette made headlines, and did RIM no favors, by telling investors in a research note that BlackBerry 10 "is likely to be dead on arrival."

RIM, looking to extend the patience of current customers, as well as dismiss Faucette's comments, invited federal politicians and their staffs to an early look at the new smartphones, Canada's The Star reported Nov. 8.

"Two other analysts came out this week with some very, very positive reactions to the platform and some positive reactions to our prospects," Andrew MacLeod, RIM's Canadian managing director, told The Canadian Press, according the report, dismissing Faucette's as just one voice among many.

In RIM's statement on its FIPS certification, it quoted IDC analyst Stacy Crook, who said that BlackBerry 10 has the "opportunity to be a highly competitive platform in the government, enterprise and consumer sectors."