BlackBerry Z30 Comes to Verizon as Samsung Makes Knox Enterprise Play

Samsung has announced a partner program for Knox, enabling resellers to leverage its Android-based security solution for enterprises.

The BlackBerry Z30, the company's first 5-inch BlackBerry 10 smartphone, will be available exclusively from Verizon Wireless starting Nov. 14. The news comes amid reports that the Pentagon, which has purchased nearly half a million BlackBerry handsets, is moving ahead with its plan to also support iOS and Android devices.

Defense Department officials say their plans are unaffected by BlackBerry's Nov. 4 announcement of its plan to remain a public company, accept a $1 billion investment and replace CEO Thorsten Heins with former Sybase CEO John Chen, Defense One reported Nov. 11.

At the moment, said the report, the DOD's mobile security strategy relies mostly on BlackBerry handsets. Devices must have "authority to operate," or ATO, clearance to connect to Defense networks, and so far only BlackBerry 10-running smartphones and Playbook tablets are ATO.

The report adds that the transition plan for moving to a variety of mobile platforms will mimic the DOD's transition from only PCs to also smartphones and tablets.

"DOD's mobility strategy and commercial mobile device implementation plan includes reliance on multiple vendors to support its mobile communications needs," Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told Defense One. "The mobile-security management system is in the early stages of development. It will undergo a limited pilot, or reach 'initial operating capacity'" by Dec. 31.

Pickart told PC Mag in March that the DOD planned to establish a department-wide mobile enterprise solution that would support the secure use of the latest commercial devices, as well as set up an application store and mobile-device management capabilities for approximately 100,000 multivendor devices, by February 2014.

According to Defense One, the app store effort is under way, and the DOD expects to connect 300,000 approved, government-issued consumer devices by 2016.

Samsung Wants the Enterprise Market

Samsung has set its sights on the customers who earlier turned to BlackBerry for its security benefits. On Nov. 12, Samsung launched a Samsung Knox Partner Program, enabling resellers and independent software vendors to also offer Knox.

Samsung introduced Knox at the Mobile World Congress event in February and describes it as a solution designed "from the ground up to systematically fortify Android by leveraging the hardware to provide the highest level of security."

Knox resolves two of customers' major concerns, says Samsung—security and manageability—while also separating users' personal content from corporate content.

"It is a truly exciting time in our journey toward winning the enterprise segment," Dr. Injong Rhee, senior vice president and head of Samsung's B2B R&D Group, IT & Mobile Division, said in a statement.

"With Samsung Knox, for the very first time, enterprise IT can deploy Android devices, which are loved by consumers, for enterprise usage, ensuring highest levels of platform security and information protection."

The Partner Program, he added, is a "win-win."