Samsung Canada COO speaks on joining BlackBerry in the government market

Samsung's S7 devices are now approved for use by Canadian government employees

It seems BlackBerry’s long reign as the de facto phone brand for Canadian bureaucrats is coming to an end.

Samsung has announced that, after two years in the certification process, its 2016 Samsung S7 devices are now approved for use by Shared Services Canada, which oversees IT for the federal government, with additional models to follow later this year. This authorizations makes Samsung the first smartphone manufacturer to join BlackBerry in that position.

Shared Services Canada will begin offering alternatives to BlackBerry devices over the next 18 months, calling it “a new approach to mobile service to better serve its clients, use new technology and adapt to changes in the marketplace,” according to a report from the Globe and Mail.

“With Samsung Canada mobile devices, government employees don’t need to use the ‘gunslinger’ approach.”

This news is perhaps not entirely surprising, as BlackBerry exited the hardware side of it mobile business in September of last year, following a $372 million USD Q2, 2017 net loss.

At the time, CEO John Chen stated that BlackBerry was no longer just about the smartphone, but “about the smart in the phone,” alluding to its decision to license its software and brand to third-party OEMs like TCL.

The last BlackBerry devices that were allowed for government use was the 2015 Leap, no longer in production today. The BlackBerry Classic, released in 2014, is also one of the more current options, though it too is no longer in production.

MobileSyrup quizzed Paul Brannen, Samsung Canada’s chief operating officer and executive vice-president of mobile enterprise solutions, via email on the process of gaining authorization, and what might give Samsung devices the edge over the BlackBerry devices currently available.

MS: What do Samsung devices offer government employees that make them stand out among the other options?

PB: At the end of day, employees are consumers too. With Samsung Canada mobile devices, government employees don’t need to use the ‘gunslinger’ approach, with one device that only essentially functions for secure work email, and another for all their personal and productivity needs.

It’s always been our approach to solve that problem and truly allow employees to carry one device for effortless multitasking. With our secure Knox folder hardware built into every device, Federal government employees will now be able to not only access secure email, but also take advantage of personal and productivity apps, all on one Samsung device.

MS: What was involved in the review process?

PB: The review process involved specific certifications for Samsung devices to be approved including Android 6.X and KNOX 2.X, which were assessed for security and risk assessments at Shared Services Canada.

Samsung was also required to pass all proof of concept steps for five criteria including: OS and KNOX assessment; Application management and white listing of apps inside the container; Email profile testing to the BES MDM; KME KNOX mobile enrollment fulfillment tool; and Policy/MDM management of all IT policies mapped to various end user profile levels.

MS: How long did it take?

PB: Samsung Canada was pleased to work with the government to ensure a secure environment was created. In all, the approval process took just over 2 years.

MS: What are some of the most important features of KNOX for government use?

PB: With Samsung technology approved for Canadian Federal government use, employees now have a safe and secure device right out of the box with defense-grade KNOX container security hardware built right in.

KNOX allows employees to safely and securely use their email, while leveraging personal and productivity applications on the same device. The unique ability for Samsung devices to separate personal and professional profiles is ideal for government employee use. In order to offer an integrated product for the Canadian Federal Government, Samsung Canada also worked closely with BlackBerry to integrate the KNOX security stack to work seamlessly with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) Mobile Device Management (MDM) software.

MS: What are Samsung Canada’s ambitions when it comes to the enterprise and government markets in Canada?

PB: As one of the first non-BlackBerry devices — and the first Android — to be approved for use by the Canadian Federal Government, this is recognition of the great work [related to dividing personal and work spaces on a smartphone] we’ve already been doing globally and here in Canada in highly regulated industries.

We’ve been working with several Canadian provinces, law enforcement agencies and financial services organizations already, but becoming the 30th government worldwide to approve Samsung devices with KNOX security is exciting for us all the same.

We’re proud to be able to offer Canadian innovation and choice to Federal Government employees with the approval of Samsung Android mobile devices, starting with 15 agencies including Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada, the Canadian Space Agency, Infrastructure Canada and Public Safety Canada.

This interview has been edited for length.


  • Techguru86

    Then offer the dtek series and keyone

    • It’s Me

      Very true. A couple friends of mine do IT at a mortgage company. They’ve been BB only for years (well, and Windows phone). Once they started allowing iPhones there was a lot of pressure from staff to allow Android, though management and IT resisted. They compromised and decided to allow Android BB’s. But apparently that has now died as they were having to much trouble. Not sure why exactly.


      This authorizations makes Samsung the first smartphone manufacturer to join BlackBerry in that position.

      First, the devices allowed include the S7 but also Apple devices. Second, not even Samsung claims it’s Samsung only. Brannen only claims to be the first Android. “As one of the first non-BlackBerry devices — and the first Android — to be approved for use by the Canadian Federal Government”. Third, for senior civil servant anyway, iPhones have been an option for years, though with some restrictions.

      Seems like just a continuation of Samsung’s press release.

  • Aaron_PhinsFan_ Clark

    Do you not realize BlackBerry is behind Knox? This article is clueless, BlackBerry has been helping Samsung with Knox since 2014. BlackBerry is in every Samsung that has Knox.. That’s a Fact Jack ????????

    • Marshall Davidson

      Really? And yet the company can’t seem to make a profit selling a damn thing so at the end of the day what’s your point? Perhaps the point is that BBRY should’ve tried harder to sell themselves to Samsung because as a standalone entity they are a joke.

    • Ryan Archibald Smith

      Blackberry’s software arms are profitable as hell, it was the hardware development and roll outs that ate the bottom line. Now that they’re out of the game (and licensing their software to pretty much anyone making any secure smart device), they’re in a much more profitable position and should begin posting better quarters as they bounce back from their last standing in the handset market.

    • Marshall Davidson

      Lol! Profitable? I think you better review the financials more closely. They are far from it considering all the adjustments they make and reliance on non GAAP numbers to cover up the ugliness.
      They are a small azz outfit going nowhere

    • TheCuddlyKoala


    • Rev0lver

      Ok there old friend. Glad you identified yourself again.

      Stay tuned….

    • TheCuddlyKoala

      They turn a profit by suing companies every quarter. They have become patent trolls.

    • Marshall Davidson

      Exactly. You can see the touts of this company waiting with baited breath for another lawsuit settlement with Nokia going in their favour because the fundamentals here stink to high heaven and there is no other way for the company to make money.

    • Rev0lver

      Ok old friend… keep shouting at clouds.

  • Dennis Guevara

    BlackBerry offers Dtek and Keyone. Canada goverment should support a Canadian company not a Korean company.

    • ToniCipriani ✓pǝᴉɟᴉɹǝʌ

      KEYone and DTEK60 are TCL products, BlackBerry is out of the hardware business.

    • Marshall Davidson

      Why? BBRY announced on its own it was exiting the hardware business so are you suggesting that government should prop this thing up in the name of ‘supporting a Canadian company”? I mean you might as well say they should nationalize the company because only incompetence and arrogance resulted in Blackberry losing all the market share it once held, including the enterprise space which it has steadily lost the past 7 years.

    • Rev0lver

      Obsessed much?

    • Bitekr

      100% right

    • TheCuddlyKoala

      No they shouldn’t. They should support what meets their needs the best.

    • Marshall Davidson

      Some people just don’t get it. You don’t prop up failing companies merely out of some sense of patriotic duty. We’ve seen that horror show play out many times in the past with the company in question often going t its up regardless the bailouts.

      We are seeing it with Bombardier where its more about saving the skin of the Beaudoin family who’ve used that thing as their personal ATM machine for over 25 years while the taxpayers keep refiling it. Supporting the aerospace industry is one thing but one incompetent, poorly run company is another and Blackberry is no different.

    • Rev0lver

      You obviously obsess over this company a lot. Perhaps you need a hobby. Might I suggest knitting?

    • TheCuddlyKoala


  • JammerMan79

    “The unique ability for Samsung devices to separate personal and professional profiles”
    BB10 has had that for years

  • Ryan Archibald Smith

    “It seems BlackBerry’s long reign as the de facto phone brand for Canadian bureaucrats is coming to an end.”

    Ummm that reign ended about a year or two ago, at least in legislative services. Pretty much every staffer on the hill had already opted for an iPhone by the time I started working for an MP in early 2016.

    • It’s Me

      Yup. Even further back than that. A buddy of mine works at the Health Canada lab in Winnipeg and most of the senior scientists and researchers there have carried iPhones for a long time. Not sure if they were formally allowed, but they were anyway.

  • Frank

    So now the Canadian Government has turned it’s back on a Canadian company, in favour of a multi national company. The funny thing is BlackBerry phones now run ANDROID, the same operating system Samsung uses. The security program Samsung uses was in part developed by BlackBerry. If we as Canadians don’t support our own grown at home companies who will. South Korea home of Samsung is totally supportive of their patriot companies, too bad Canada is not. It’s a sad day for Canada.

    • Marshall Davidson

      I find it laughable that you think Canadian governments should support some company that is no longer in the handset business and where what handsets they have made are all outsourced to places like China for manufacturing. lol!
      The real sad day that occurred here happened when this company ignored many of its own engineers and customers by refusing to create a proper ecosystem for their products to thrive and survive. They got their lunch eaten by competitors and for good reason.

      The company doesn’t deserve to be supported and failures don’t deserve to be rewarded.

    • Techguru86

      All devices are made in China, even Apple don’t built their own, what a stupid comment.

    • Marshall Davidson

      No. What is stupid is anyone suggesting this company is Canadian anymore when nearly all the executives running it are Americans, namely John Chen cronies from Sybase, and where the vast majority of layoffs came from their Canadian operations. Any new hires recently tended to have been made in the U.S. or abroad.

      This is no more a Canadian company than The Bay or Tim Horton’s.

    • Rev0lver

      Even more obsession. Sad.

    • It’s Me

      Well, to be fair there is a big difference between Apple or anyone else having someone assemble their designs for them and BB licensing their name and OS to TCL.

    • Rev0lver

      Man, never ending list of comments from you. Sad.

    • Wordy Gleir

      Frank said: So now the Canadian Government has turned it’s back on a Canadian company, in favour of a multi national company.

      >>Yeah, cause we should all buy Canadian even if the product isn’t the best product. How very Joe Canuck of you. Seriously — it’s incredible that you’re even suggesting this. The Canadian government is quite rightly going with what they believe to be their BEST option, and to he11 with the support-local thing. I applaud the government for doing so. Obviously, it would be better to support a Canadian company, it being the Canadian gov and all; but in the end, the gov should (and rightly has) gone with the best solution.

    • Frank

      It’s a shame you don’t know what you’re talking about. 🙁

    • Wordy Gleir

      Wow, what a comeback. What a masterful defense of your absurd position. I applaud you, sir, for you have cemented my point.

  • TheCuddlyKoala

    Samsung is going to kill blackberry in the government market. RIP blackberry.

  • johny

    give us Bixby before going to Canadian government

    • Kevin

      Ha ha! I was about the say the same thing, you beat me to the punch!
      Concentrate on what we should have had at the launch of the S8 and S8+ before taking on more crap!