German Chancellor Angela Merkel is getting a new phone. In fact, she’s buying almost 10,000 of them, for something in the neighborhood of $31 million.
This summer, the German government will get the first of about 9,600 hack-proof handsets. The government last year asked tech companies for bids on supplying phones to let ministry workers, diplomats, and other officials send and receive classified documents and make secure calls.
On Mar. 6, the government said the tender had been won by Deutsche Telekom’s T-Systems unit and Secusmart, a security specialist in Dusseldorf. The devices will cost about 2,500 euros each, according to a March 12 report in Manager Magazine.
Secusmart says it is using Blackberry handsets for its phones. The company says it worked on the device for about a year and will start supplying the government in July. A mobile application security company in Hanover, mediaTest digital, will supply a secure internal app store for the devices.
“Secure phones used to be anything but sleek and smart,” said Hans-Christoph Quelle, Secusmart’s managing director. The device “will offer all amenities of a modern smartphone that can be used privately and at the same time, it will be secure enough for Ms. Merkel. That’s the first time this has been achieved.”
T-Systems says it started with phones from Samsung Electronics and added software that allows users to switch between private and secure work mode without having to restart.
Quelle predicts the trend will catch on. “We’re talking to governments around the world, and they all want the same thing: A secure phone that’s user-friendly,” Quelle said.