Yes, he can: Obama to keep his beloved BlackBerry
David Flynn19 January 2009, 7:00 PM (3 days 9 hours ago.)
The President-elect gets to hang onto his favourite gadget, although he’ll also have to carry a chunky second super-secure mobile for “government” use.
Chalk up the first win for Barack Obama. Even before the incoming president takes office at noon tomorrow, US time, Obama has delivered on his promise to bring change to the Washington DC and The White House – he’s changed the policy which looked set to prevent him from using his BlackBerry mobile phone.
The man who recently said of his BlackBerry “they're going to pry it out of my hands” will get to keep his hands on his BlackBerry after all. This will make Obama the first US president to carry a mobile phone and have any technology in the Oval Office.
Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod, seen here with Obama during the election lead-up, recalls that during the campaign “(Obama’s) BlackBerry was constantly crackling with e-mails.” Obama also relied on his BlackBerry to review memos and briefing books on the go. (photo: Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times)
The nerdy next president, who lists one of his own worst habits as constantly checking his BlackBerry and admits to being a fan of Spiderman and Star Trek, wants to keep his email access so he doesn’t lose touch with the world beyond the Oval Office
“One of the things that I'm going to have to work through is how to break through the isolation and the bubble that exists around the president” Obama told US journalist Barbara Walters during a TV interview last month.
“I'm negotiating (with the Secret Service and lawyers) to figure out how can I get information from outside of the 10 or 12 people who surround my office in the White House, because one of the worst things I think that could happen to a president is losing touch with what people are going through day to day.”
ABC World News is now reporting that Obama has won that battle and will take his BlackBerry with him to the White House. However, it will be restricted to personal use – and we can’t imagine what sort of personal stuff Obama would now have in his life except for swapping SMS messages with wife Michelle and his daughters Sasha and Malia.
Anything government-related will have to be handled on a new super-secure mobile phone approved by the National Security Agency. The device, called a Sectera Edge, is a bit of an ugly brick which could probably double as a chuck wedged under the wheels of Air Force One. What’s worse for any BlackBerry enthusiast such as Obama is that the Sectera Edge uses – you guessed it – Windows Mobile.
You said that we all have to make sacrifices, Mr President... yours is to use Windows Mobile.
All the same, the manufacturers of the BlackBerry have enjoyed an unprecedented wave of publicity through what has become the ultimate celebrity endorsement.
Fran Kelly, the chief executive of international advertising agency Arnold Worldwide, pins the market value of Obama's endorsement at about U$25 million. “You always want the celebrity to be a good fit with your brand, and is anybody considered a better communicator right now than Barack Obama, or a better networker?” Kelly told UK newspaper The Telegraph.