US Army chooses Blackberry Playbook for replacing laptops

Research in Motion Ltd’s PlayBook tablet computer, panned at its April debut, has an edge over Apple Inc’s iPad in the Army thanks to RIM’s encrypted servers.That advantage may soon dissipate as Apple’s more broadly popular devices march toward Defense Department security certification, which may come as early as this month, military officials said.Tablet computers are being tested across all military branches, according to interviews conducted by Bloomberg Government since May 17. The services pay $500 to $600 per tablet, less than half the cost of laptops that are “ruggedized,” or enhanced with a shell and toughened to withstand harsh environments. Tablets also may replace paper manuals, maps, biometric devices and some communications tools.The U.S. Army is leaning toward the PlayBook because RIM “addressed security concerns from the get-go,” said Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Dosmann, who oversees mobile device pilot- testing for the Army’s cybersecurity division. Security remains an issue for Apple and may hold back wider use of iPads, he said.Apple, Dell Inc, RIM and other tablet makers are vying to tap the military market for computers, laptops and servers worth $2.9 billion in the government’s 2010 fiscal year. Of that amount, spending on enhanced laptops was $33 million. The department spent $37 million on tablets in the same fiscal year, according to Bloomberg data.” Read more here: