This hasn’t been a good tech month for the Obama administration, which you’d think would be incredibly good with technology. During the election, its use of data analytics was nothing short of brilliant, and it kicked the Republican Party’s butt with far better mining of contribution resources and in terms of getting the vote out. But in office, things haven’t been so great. The federal Affordable Care Act website has been an IT disaster, so much so that it became the lead skit on Saturday Night Live this week. I doubt the President was laughing.
Then we have seen the leaks on how the NSA has been spying on foreign leaders, including those in countries with which we are allied. The President has argued that he had no idea this was going on. One interesting aspect that stands out to me is that since the NSA is spying on his peers, it seems he’d be very focused on how secure his own phone is to make sure others aren’t spying on him in turn, or consider not using a smartphone. Apparently he refuses to give up his BlackBerry.
BlackBerry’s Sustained Advantage
Given what the U.S. President knows about the insecurity of most smartphone systems, the fact that he won’t replace his BlackBerry with anything else is telling. And it isn’t nationalism driving his choice, either, because both Apple and Google are U.S. companies, and Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman, appears to be a personal friend.
No, it is because he knows BlackBerries are designed for business and to be secure from the start. If he doesn’t want Germany’s Chancellor’s staff listening in, he wants and needs the confidence of a secure solution.
Interestingly, BlackBerry also reported this week that owners of phones from competing vendors have flocked in the tens of millions to BlackBerry’s BBM network, likely for similar benefits.
Focus on Business Clients
Focusing on business needs, BlackBerry didn’t compromise security. Right now, every other platform appears to be excessively focused on making data access easy. This approach is why a lot of companies are thinking of making changes like either buying back into BlackBerry’s full solution or using BBM as a secure messaging app.
Wrapping Up: Good News for BlackBerry, Not So Much for the U.S.
President Obama’s use of the BlackBerry certainly provides a very high-profile advocacy for both privacy and the device. While the administration is claiming it had no knowledge of the leader spying scandal until recently, the President himself is using the most secure smartphone. Is the administration expecting a quid pro quo response from other countries? Is the President’s insistence on keeping his BlackBerry related to the spying scandal? If so, I doubt that will sit well with other leaders or other U.S. politicians.
Still, I can’t think of a more powerful advocate for BlackBerry than a U.S. President.