FBI to use Samsung Galaxy devices?
SAMSUNG Electronics is close to signing a deal to sell its popular line of Galaxy devices to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), sources said last Friday.
The deal would be a boost for Samsung, which is increasingly seeking to cater to the needs of government agencies, a niche long dominated by Canadian smartphone-maker BlackBerry.
The FBI, with more than 35,000 employees, uses mainly BlackBerry devices. It is unclear whether the agency plans to replace all BlackBerry equipment with Galaxy models or whether it will use hardware from both companies.
A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment on the matter, saying that the selection of its new smartphones is part of an active acquisition process and any current discussions are proprietary to the government.
The imminent deal was first reported by The Wall Street Journal late last Thursday. The newspaper also said Samsung is close to signing a smaller order for its devices with the US Navy, citing people familiar with the matter.
Representatives of BlackBerry and Samsung declined to comment. However, BlackBerry emphasised that it regards its operating system as the best in the market in terms of security features.
"The security of mobile devices is more important now than it has ever been before," BlackBerry chief legal officer Steve Zipperstein said in an interview.
"It is fair to ask why, in this context, anyone would consider moving from the gold standard in security, which is the BlackBerry platform."
In May, the Pentagon cleared Samsung's Android mobile devices and a new line of BlackBerry devices powered by the BB10 operating system for use on Defence Department networks.
Samsung has been pushing hard to convince government agencies and corporate clients that its Galaxy devices, powered by Google's Android operating system, can meet their stringent security needs.
Some analysts remain sceptical about whether Android can meet all the security requirements of such clients, and note that the FBI itself has highlighted some vulnerabilities of the platform.
"If you're going to sell to the government, you have to be able to provide a secure solution, and Android isn't it yet," said Mr Rob Enderle, principal analyst with Enderle Group.