Research in Motion Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins holds up a prototype of the BlackBerry 10 smartphone at the BlackBerry World event in Orlando. Credit: Reuters/David Manning
Research In Motion Ltd said on Thursday it has won a much-coveted U.S. government security clearance for its yet-to-be launched platform for BlackBerry 10 devices that are expected to hit store shelves in the first quarter of 2013.
The company said its BlackBerry 10 platform has received the FIPS 140-2 certification, which would allow government agencies to deploy the devices, along with the new enterprise management platform to run the devices, as soon as the new smartphones are launched.
RIM, a one-time pioneer in the smartphone industry, has seen its fortunes fade in recent years as nimbler rivals such as Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co have taken the game away from RIM with faster and snazzier devices. RIM's fate now depends almost entirely on the long-awaited line of so-called BB 10 devices.
Last month, RIM said it had begun carrier tests on the new line of devices, which the company hopes will help it regain some of the market share it has ceded to the likes of Apple's iPhone and a slew of other devices that run on Google Inc's Android operating system.
The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said this is the first time BlackBerry products have been FIPS certified ahead of launch.
"Achieving FIPS certification for an entirely new platform in a very short period of time, and before launch, is quite remarkable," RIM's head of security certifications, David MacFarlane, said in a statement.
FIPS certification, which is given by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is one of the minimum criteria that is required for products used by U.S. government agencies and regulated industries that collect, store, transfer, share and disseminate sensitive information.
The stamp of approval gives confidence to security-conscious organizations - including some of RIM's top clients like U.S. and Canadian government agencies - that the data stored on smartphones running BlackBerry 10 can be properly secured and encrypted.
RIM promises that BlackBerry 10 will deliver a better user experience, along with the ability to separately manage both one's corporate and personal data on the same device.