BlackBerry announces BBM coming to iOS and Android later this summer

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Although BlackBerry has been rumored to bring its BBM messaging platform to iOS and other devices before, today the company has made things official announcing at its event that support for both iOS and Android will be arriving in the coming months. The service, which BlackBerry says currently has about  60 million monthly active users, will come to devices running iOS 6 and Android 4.0 or above when it’s launched as a free app sometime this summer in the App Store and Google Play.

The company said that it would be bringing messaging and groups functionality to new platforms first but also has plans to introduce voice features, screen sharing, and its just announced “social engagement platform” dubbed ‘Channels’ in future releases. BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said the company is “committed to making the BBM experience on other platforms as fully featured” as possible. Read more

DoD to grant Apple’s iOS 6 & Samsung Galaxy devices security approval for widespread use by US government agencies

DOD-iPad-USThe iPhone and iPad have already been cleared for use by a number of US government agencies, and in February the US Defense Department confirmed plans to open its networks to 100,000 new devices from Apple and Google by February of next year. Today, The Wall Street Journal reports the DoD is about to grant two more important security approvals that could increase the number of agencies allowed to deploy iPhone, iPads, and Samsung Galaxy devices:

The Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, the agency that sanctions commercial technology for Pentagon use, is set to rule that Samsung’s Galaxy line of smartphones, preloaded with Samsung’s Knox security software, conforms with the Pentagon’s so-called Security Technology Implementation Guide, according to people familiar with the approval process. That would allow it to be used by some Pentagon agencies for things like sending and receiving internal emails, according to these people.

Separately, DISA is expected to rule that Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 6, conforms to a different security-requirement guide, these people said. That would allow iPhones and iPads to be used by military agencies for nonclassified communications, like email and Web browsing.

The report from WSJ explained Samsung has been steadily increasing its attempt to break into corporate and government markets by hiring a new team of security experts and former RIM employees to reach out to Western governments and corporations: Read more

comScore: Apple increases lead as top smartphone vendor in US, iOS steals market share from Android

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Research firm comScore is out with its usual monthly report that ranks the top smartphone OEMs and platforms for the three-month period ending in February. Apple continues to grow its lead this month as top OEM in the U.S., jumping 3.9-percent from November to 38.9-percent of the market and increasing its lead on the second biggest OEM by subscribers, Samsung:

Samsung ranked second with 21.3 percent market share (up 1 percentage point), followed by HTC with 9.3 percent share, Motorola with 8.4 percent and LG with 6.8 percent.

Feb-Comscore-Apple-PlatformsIt’s important to point out that the shipped vs. sold argument doesn’t apply to comScore’s results, as its data comes from surveys tracking smartphone subscribers and usage and not sales or units shipped. Google grabs the spot as top smartphone platform at the end of February, but Apple continues to close the gap capturing 38.9-percent of the market (up from 35 percent) compared to Google’s 51.7-percent (down from 53.7-percent): Read more

US Defense Department confirms plans to roll out 100K iOS and Android devices by next year

DOD-iPad-USWe heard reports in October that the U.S. Department of Defense was preparing to approve a large number of iOS and Android devices for use on government networks. Those reports were followed earlier this month with news that CACI International Inc. was modifying thousands of iPads for use in U.S. government agencies. The Pentagon confirmed in a statement today that it plans to open its networks to 100,000 new devices from Apple and Google by February of next year:

The Pentagon said it wants employees to have the flexibility to use commercial products on classified and unclassified networks. It plans to create a military mobile applications store and hire a contractor to build a system that may eventually handle as many as 8 million devices.

The move comes as iPad and other iOS devices continue to be adopted by government agencies over BlackBerry. Documents from October revealed the U.S. Department of Defense planned to deploy up to 8 millions devices partially made up of iOS devices, while a number of other U.S. agencies also switched from BlackBerry to iPhones over the last year. As for the App Store and system for managing the up to 8 million devices, the DOD will select one or more companies by summer to develop the necessary software: Read more

Patent troll Personal Audio LLC sues iTunes’ top podcaster Adam Carolla’s Ace Broadcasting

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In July 2011, a federal jury in Texas awarded “patent licensing company” Personal Audio LLC $8 million in its patent infringement lawsuit against Apple. The jury found Apple infringed two valid patents related to downloadable playlists with its iOS devices as far back as the original iPod. One covered an “audio program player including a dynamic program selection controller,” while the other covered an “audio program distribution and playback system.” 9to5Mac has now learned Personal Audio LLC is attempting to target content creators directly, starting with a new patent infringement case in Texas against one of iTunes biggest podcasters, Adam Carolla’s Ace Broadcasting.

If the outcome of the case is anything like Personal Audio’s previous cases, it could have a major impact on podcasters and other content creators on iTunes and elsewhere. Personal Audio also sued and entered licensing agreements with Sirius XM Radio, Archos, Coby, RIM, Samsung, Amazon, and Motorola related to its downloadable playlist patents and others.

The new patent, issued just last year on Feb. 7, 2012, is quite broad and describes a “System for Disseminating Media Content Representing Episodes in a Serialized Sequence.” Personal Audio is also suing the popular Howstuffworks.com series, which like Ace Broadcasting, is a large podcasting presence on iTunes and across the web…

Read more

Another US government agency drops BlackBerry, plans switch to iPhone 5

Following the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency announcing it would end its contract with RIM and purchase $2.1 million worth of iPhones, Bloomberg reported today that the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board will also make the switch. The agency said in a notice posted to its website that BlackBerrys have been “failing both at inopportune times and at an unacceptable rate” while announcing plans to purchase iPhone 5’s as replacements:

The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates plane accidents, disclosed its plan to switch to Apple Inc.’s iPhone 5 in a document posted last week to a federal website. The BlackBerrys have been “failing both at inopportune times and at an unacceptable rate,” according to the NTSB’s notice.

While the agency only has about 400 employees, last month’s announcement from the U.S. Immigration and Customs agency means RIM will lose additional 17,600 government employees to the iPhone in the near future. According to the document posted by the Transportation Safety Board, the agency “requires effective, reliable and stable communication capabilities to carry out its primary investigative mission and to ensure employee safety in remote locations.” RIM, however, is still counting on many government customers to upgrade to BlackBerry 10… Read more