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Obama still won't say whether he's using a BlackBerry or something else

'It can turn into a car,' the president jokes of his device

February 2, 2009 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - The mystery continues. President Barack Obama said in a television interview broadcast today that he has a very secure handheld device, but he would not divulge whether or not he's still using his coveted BlackBerry.

"It has everything," Obama said in an interview shown on NBC's Today Show this morning, referring to his handheld and its security and other features. "It can turn into a car."

Obama laughed about the security surrounding the device in the interview by Today's Matt Lauer, which was recorded last night. The president also talked about weightier matters of state, including economic stimulus debates on Capitol Hill. But the handheld came up during discussion of how the president and his family are adjusting to the fishbowl of the White House.

Asked directly if the handheld he is using is a BlackBerry, the president didn't answer and implied that it includes fingerprint-recognition capabilities. Lauer even asked if he had it with him, but the president said it was upstairs. Obama appeared for the interview in a white shirt unbuttoned at the collar with dark slacks.

When asked who has his e-mail address, the president said it was small group of people. And asked whether his daughters could e-mail him, he said only that they knew how to reach him. As for heads of foreign states, he hedged a bit, saying they know how to reach him at the Oval Office.

Basically, Obama seems to have described a security system much like the one recently posited by his press secretary and several security analysts. It is one in which very few people have his handheld e-mail address and uncertainty surrounds exactly what the device is. Obama hasn't shown the device publicly, only offering a glimpse of the handheld's backside when he made a press room appearance on Jan. 22.

Analysts feel it is likely another device already approved by the National Security Agency, probably a Sectera Edge like those now in use by numerous federal workers. What Obama showed reporters last month was too big to be a modern BlackBerry.

General Dynamics Corp., which developed the Sectera Edge, would not confirm that that is what the president is using.

Read more about Mobile/Wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.



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