UK government rejects BB10 software [updated]

44289-blackberry-10-devicesOne thing that the-company-formerly-known-as-RIM sure wants to hold on to is its strong relationship with business users, although admittedly even that has been slipping away in recent years. The recently launched BlackBerry 10 platform is supposed to win back government agencies and businesses who’ve deserted the mobile company for competing handsets like the iPhone or devices running Android.

But the early signs are that things may not be going as well as hoped, with a Guardian report on Tuesday indicating that the UK government has rejected the new BlackBerry 10 platform for not being secure enough.

The report said that tests carried out by the government’s Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG) on the BlackBerry 10 platform and its Balance software – designed to allow users to keep work and personal accounts on their device separate – have shown that, for now at least, the device is not secure enough.

It’s expected that BlackBerry will submit revised software in an effort to get security clearance, but the company reportedly has no timeframe laid out as for when this might happen. BlackBerry has a long-standing relationship with the UK government, with versions of BlackBerry’s mobile OS prior to BB10 obtaining security clearance, so the rejection of BB10 is a serious setback.

BlackBerry desperately needs BB10 to take off in a big way if the company is to continue in its current form. Since the iPhone and various Android-powered Samsung handsets came on the scene, BlackBerry has seen its share of the market shrink dramatically – especially in the US where it’s lost some 14 million users in less than three years.

‘Wait six months’

News of the UK government’s decision to hold off on switching to BB10 comes at the same time as technology research firm Gartner is advising companies to wait six months before investing in BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (the company’s mobile device management software), or essentially “until it is clear that BB10 has proven successful in the consumer market.”

“It is important to wait to make any moves toward full support of BB10 devices until the market makes a clear statement on BB10’s success (or lack thereof),” Gartner said in its report.

It added that it believed the Ontario-based company would need at least three years to gain even a five percent share of the global smartphone market. Gartner also said that the success of BB10 will come down to how effectively BlackBerry markets its new platform, describing the challenge as “daunting”.

Talking of marketing, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins is already doing his best to beat down the opposition, saying in an interview this week that he thought the iPhone’s interface was outdated, though he said he respected Apple’s work in revolutionizing the smartphone market.

This is a crucial week for BlackBerry, with its new Z10 handset set to launch in the US on Friday. The new device, which has been available for over a month in other parts of the world, has been generally well received, but the jury is still out on whether it will be able to save the company. Like Gartner says, the picture will likely be much clearer in six months’ time.

[Update] BlackBerry has issued a statement (below) dismissing reports that the UK government has rejected its new BB10 platform. The Guardian, the source of the story, has since removed its article without explanation.

Media reports alleging that BlackBerry 10 has been ‘rejected’ for U.K. government use are both false and misleading. BlackBerry has a long-established relationship with CESG and we remain the only mobile solution approved for use at ‘Restricted’ when configured in accordance with CESG guidelines. This level of approval only comes following a process which is rigorous and absolutely necessary given the highly confidential nature of the communications being transmitted. The current re-structuring of this approval process, due to the Government Protective Marking Scheme review and the new CESG Commercial Product Assurance scheme has an impact on the timeline for BlackBerry 10 to receive a similar level of approval. The U.S. government’s FIPS 140-2 certification of BlackBerry 10 and the selection of BlackBerry 10 by the German Procurement Office and Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) underline how our new platform continues to set the standard for government communications. We are continuing to work closely with CESG on the approval of BlackBerry 10 and we’re confident that BlackBerry 10 will only strengthen our position as the mobile solution of choice for the U.K. government.

[Update 2] CESG has also issued a statement (below), saying it is still in talks with BlackBerry about using its platform.

Discussions with BlackBerry are ongoing about the use of the BlackBerry 10 platform in government. We have not yet performed an evaluation of the security of the platform, but we expect to be issuing Platform Guidance in the summer. This will cover a number of platforms, including BlackBerry 10 (and the use of ‘Balance’). We have a long-standing security partnership with BlackBerry, and this gives us confidence that the BlackBerry 10 platform is likely to represent a viable solution for UK Government.

Product Review

The new iPad Mini certainly isn’t a beauty, but it performs like a beast

Apple’s new iPad Mini has beastly performance, fluid iOS 12 software, and good battery life. It also looks like it came straight out of 2015, because the design hasn’t been changed. Here are our impressions of Apple’s new 7.9-inch…
News

Browse safely and securely with Opera’s unlimited VPN on Android

Opera has added a new VPN to its Android browser, offering an easy way to keep your privacy and data locked up solid, and with no limits on usage or cost, you can keep it on all the time.
Computing

Confused about RSS? Don't be. Here's what it is and how to use it

What is an RSS feed, anyway? This traditional method of following online news is still plenty useful. Let's take a look at what RSS means, and what advantages it has in today's busy world.
Mobile

iPad Air vs. iPad Mini: Which new tablet from Apple is best for you?

Apple has unveiled two new iPad models, including a new iPad Air and a new iPad Mini. Both devices have a lot to offer. But which iPad is right for your needs? We put the iPad Air and iPad Mini to the test to find out.
Mobile

You can now listen to Google Podcasts on your desktop without the app

The Google Podcasts app is no longer entirely necessary to listen to the podcasts it offers. With a simple tweak of the sharing URL, you can listen to a Google Podcasts podcast on your desktop or laptop without the app.
Mobile

The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G might be a few short weeks away from launch

Samsung has announced a whopping four new Galaxy S10 devices, from the low-cost S10e to the triple-camera S10 and S10 Plus. But it's the Galaxy S10 5G that steals the show as it's among the first 5G-ready smartphones to hit the market.
Computing

T-Mobile goes after big cable companies, pilots wireless home internet service

In a shot at big cable companies, T-Mobile is launching a new pilot program to bring an unlimited wireless LTE home internet service to up to 50,000 homes across the United States by the end of 2019.
Mobile

Type away on the best iPad keyboard cases, from the Mini to the Pro

Whether you're looking to replace your laptop with a tablet or merely want to increase your typing speed, a physical iPad keyboard is the perfect companion to the iPad. Check out our top picks for every available iPad model.
Mobile

Apple patent suggests Apple Watch bands could have built-in fitness indicators

Apple may be exploring ways to make Apple Watch bands a little more useful. A new patent has been filed by Apple that suggests Apple Watch bands could eventually have indicators for things like fitness goals.
Mobile

Apple patents hint at improved Apple Store and unboxing experiences

It looks like Apple is working on ways to improve the Apple Store and product unboxing experiences. The company has been awarded a few patents, largely for tech that can be used in product packaging to ensure products stay charged.
Wearables

Fossil made a smartwatch in 2004, and it’s part of a new brand retrospective

Fossil has been making watches for 35 years, and to celebrate the anniversary, it has a new retrospective exhibit complete with the first smartwatch it made — the Wrist Net watch from 2004.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for March 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Wearables

Fossil is working on a smartwatch with BMW, and it’s coming next year

Fossil, the watch company that makes smartwatches under its own name and partners with other major brands too, intends to launch a smartwatch with car manufacturer BMW in the future.
Social Media

A Facebook, Instagram bug exposed millions of passwords to its employees

Facebook, Facebook Lite, and Instagram passwords weren't properly encrypted and could be viewed by employees, the company said Thursday. The network estimates millions of users were affected.