BlackBerry to collaborate with Boeing on self-destructing phone

22 Dec 2014

Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. Still taken from Tomorrow Never Dies

In a move that would make James Bond’s tech guru Q jealous, BlackBerry and Boeing are coming together to work on a new smartphone with security features so heightened it has the ability to self-destruct.

Boeing announced the development of the Boeing Black last February with the intent of creating a device for secure communications between government agencies and their contractors with the phone able to self-destruct if tampered with.

Now the company is working with wireless equipment developer BlackBerry to provide secure mobile solutions for the device. Speaking to Reuters, BlackBerry CEO John Chen confirmed the partnership, and in keeping with the cloak-and-dagger nature of the project, he was giving little other information away.

“We’re pleased to announce that Boeing is collaborating with BlackBerry to provide a secure mobile solution for Android devices utilising our BES 12 platform,” said Chen. “That, by the way, is all they allow me to say.”

A Boeing spokesman has since given a statement to GeekWire.

“Boeing is collaborating with BlackBerry to provide secure mobile solutions for Android devices utilising their BES 12 platform. We see the need for end-to-end, layered security in the mobile ecosystem that supports our defence and security customers,” the company stated.

“Boeing has decades of experience providing defence and security customers with secure communications. Over the past couple of years, the company has developed and introduced its own secure smartphone, Boeing Black, exclusively for defence and security customers. We are working with BlackBerry to help them ensure the BES 12 operating system is compatible with, and optimised for use by, the ultra-secure mobile devices favoured by the defence and security community.

“Due to customer sensitivities, we cannot disclose who is currently using Boeing Black or considering a purchase.”

BlackBerry’s struggles

BlackBerry has recently struggled in the smartphone arena and, in September, revealed plans to sell its latest device at a lower price than competitors in an attempt to regain a foothold in the market.

The company’s Passport device launched at US$599 in the US without subsidies, while the iPhone 6 starts at US$649 without contract. Samsung’s Galaxy S5 costs around US$650.

According to Chen, the true value of the Passport is around the US$700 mark. “But I figure that to try to get the market interested, we’re going to start a little lower than that,” he revealed.

Dean Van Nguyen was a contributor to Silicon Republic