Damn any Russian spies or would-be Ken Starrs: President Barack Obama wants to keep his BlackBerry (RIMM). And it’s not a smartphone Obama wants, it’s his BlackBerry, an endorsement of the Ontario-based Research in Motion’s device worth up to $50 million if it was a paid deal.
Now Obama is getting fresh blowback, on the idea the American president’s data can’t be trusted to a Canadian device. Those wily Canucks! But Microsoft (MSFT) and General Dynamics (GD) want the President to know they’re ready to help.
WSJ: Microsoft, however, has questioned the wisdom of the president relying on a device whose maker is based in Canada. “You would be sending your data outside the country,” says Randy Siegel, a Microsoft enterprise mobile strategist who works on federal government projects. “We wouldn’t want the casual musings or official communications of the most important person in the world being intercepted by others.”
Even if RIM routed information through a U.S. data centre, the devices aren’t built to NSA’s security specs, he says. RIM declined to comment.
Mr. Siegel argues that a better alternative would be a National Security Agency-approved device, such as the Sectéra Edge. Made by defence contractor General Dynamics and powered by Microsoft’s Windows CE software, the Edge is a smart phone that secures voice as well as data use. It was certified by the NSA in December 2007 but didn’t become available until this month, and the 12-ounce device costs about $3,350.
Even if Obama figures out a way to keep his Canada-made phone, the Edge could be a winner for Microsoft and GD: The US government is reportedly considering buying anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 of the three thousand dollar devices.