BlackBerry is keeping its user-in-chief, for now


People walk through a parking lot at the Blackberry campus in Waterloo, Canada, in this Sept. 23, 2013 file photo.(Mark Blinch/Reuters, Files)

BlackBerry shares took a little hit in after-hours trading Thursday after reports that the Department of Defense was testing Samsung and LG phones for use in the White House -- one of the last smartphone strongholds for the Canadian technology firm.

If the White House planned to have President Obama drop his BlackBerry, it would be a major blow to the company's already bruised image. But, lucky for BlackBerry, it's not in danger of losing its most famous customer any time soon.

A White House spokesman said that the Executive Office of the President is not involved in any pilot program for testing non-BlackBerry phones and that there is nothing new to share about the president's BlackBerry.

That doesn't mean, however, that BlackBerry is on firm footing in the race for government customers. BlackBerry's share of the market has continued to erode in the face of competition from Apple, Samsung and other firms, and the latest numbers from IDC showed that less than 1 percent of all smartphones shipped in the last quarter of 2013 were BlackBerrys.

Once the world's dominant smartphone maker, the firm had trouble keeping customers even among its core business and government users as its product features started to lag behind more modern smartphones, and other companies have worked to improve their device security.

In response, Capitol Hill offices, the State Department, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have allowed their employees to use iPhones or Android phones.

Last year, the Pentagon added Apple and Samsung to the short list of smartphone makers that it has approved for use by its workers.

The Defense Department is currently in the process of issuing some of these non-BlackBerry devices to its employees. The White House Communications Agency, which handles the daily and emergency communications requirements for the president, is a part of the Defense Department -- but the president's office itself is not participating in any testing, the spokesman said.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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