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January 22, 2014

Huge BlackBerry Stock Spark! Initial Release of DoD Unclassified Mobility Capability V1.0 is Announced by DISA

When BlackBerry first announced that it was going to sell itself for $9 a share it sparked a lot of controversy from the perspective of determining BlackBerry's actual worth. Many investors felt $9 a share was a "steal" that should not take place, and as I look back over the last six months the truth of the matter is that well, these investors were much more right than foolish to think it.

Since then battle-hardened former Sybase CEO John Chen, who is now BlackBerry's CEO (without the "interim" descriptor), has pulled off some very smart quick moves that look to suddenly have BlackBerry positioned to re-emerge as a bona fide mobile security player.

The crucial difference between what Chen is doing and what had gone on before? More than anything it simply feels as if BlackBerry is once again under solid adult supervision and is now operating without a "hope and a prayer" mentality and absolutely without the hubris so heavily exhibited by its former co-CEOs. In short, BlackBerry looks to be back in real business - amazing what the right leadership can accomplish.

Today BlackBerry is already back to trading at $9 a share or so, and a variety of analysts are beginning to wake up to the possibility that it could be worth as much as $17 a share in less than 6 months. I won't go into details here about why financial analysts are rethinking BlackBerry's position, but I can point to a key reason why thinks are looking up for the company.

Early last year in March 2013, it was rumored that the Department of Defense (DoD) was going to scrap all its BlackBerry devices in favor of Android and iOS devices. I was put in contact with Lt. Col. Damien Pickart who set me straight. We connected again yesterday and he helped set me straight yet again.

It turns out that everyone jumped the gun and took it as fact that long time government partner BlackBerry was out. What, in fact, was going on, was lots of testing and the idea that the DoD would not restrict itself to just using BlackBerry devices, but would use the appropriate device for individual circumstances.

Last week the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) announced that the DoD would begin deploying version 1.0 of the unclassified mobility capability. This will happen on Jan. 31 and will build out capacity to support up to 100,000 users by the end of the fiscal year.

One thing that is very clear is that BlackBerry is far from being out of the picture. In fact, it occupies most of the canvas. This is good news in deed for BlackBerry. The Department of Defense disclosed that there were 80,000 BlackBerry devices.

This represents about 98 percent of all the devices being used. Coupled with the fact that the new Pentagon mobile management system is using BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) 10.1 as its backbone, then you can get an understanding of BlackBerry’s resurgence in this environment.

The main reason that BlackBerry as always fared well in the government and corporate sectors was not their mobile devices, but the security that backed each device that was connected to the network. It seems that BlackBerry is re-focusing in an attempt to re-gain its dominance in security.

In addition to the 80,000 BlackBerry devices, the program also supports 1,800 unclassified mobile devices including iPad 3 and 4, iPhone 4S and 5, Samsung 10.1 tablets and Samsung 3S and Motorola RAZR devices with participation from the combatant commands, services and agencies throughout DOD.

As I mentioned above, the initial release will take place on Jan. 31. This will include the mobile device management system, mobile application store, approved devices list, supported cellular access, DOD PKI support, transition of approved applications and enterprise services for mobility including Defense Enterprise Email, the DOD Global Address List, Tier 2/3 Service Desk Support and Defense Connect Online.

The mobility program currently supports 16 mobile applications. The ongoing process is also looking at vetting over 90 additional apps. The release at the end of the month will begin a 90 day spiral approach to deploying new capabilities.

The DISA is also in the process of working with key mission partners that include Air Mobility Command from the AF and the Human Resource Command from the Army to service large mission needs that have not been connected to the network in the past. AMC has more than 18,000 Flight Bag devices and HRC anticipates more than 10,000 users.

We have seen a lot of changes coming from BlackBerry in the past couple of months. As I noted above, in the beginning of November 2013 John Chen took control. During several interviews and statements, Chen continued to say that he wanted to get back to what BlackBerry does best and that is security.

The news that 98 percent of the DoD’s devices plus the use of BES 10.1 as the backbone has to have a positive effect on BlackBerry’s investors and shareholders. Chen has been in charge for only a few months and in that time he has made many changes. Let’s see if the momentum keeps the company moving forward. I think it will.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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