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Boeing, BlackBerry working on self-destructing spy phone

Boeing Co. is teaming up with BlackBerry Ltd. on a secretive, self-destructing smartphone developed for use by U.S. defense and homeland security employees and contractors.

The partnership showcases a push by Boeing, the second-largest U.S. defense contractor, into software development as sales slow for its military hardware amid Pentagon budget cuts. BlackBerry gains a new way to hold on to its government base as commercial sales decline.

“We’re pleased to announce that Boeing is collaborating with BlackBerry to provide a secure mobile solution for Android devices utilizing our BES12 platform,” John Chen, chairman and chief executive officer of Waterloo, Ont.-based BlackBerry, said during an earnings call Friday. “That, by the way, is all they allow me to say.”

The Chicago-based aerospace company has been testing its secure smartphone, known as the Boeing Black, with BlackBerry’s main business enterprise server product, known as BES, which provides software that allows large corporations and government departments to keep track of their employees’ devices. The server is compatible with Android and iPhone handsets.

The companies are “pursuing a number of opportunities” that would pair the Boeing device with BlackBerry’s server, Andy Lee, a Boeing spokesman, said.

“Boeing has decades of experience providing defense and security customers with secure communications,” Lee said. “We are working with BlackBerry to help them ensure the BES12 operating system is compatible with, and optimized for use by, the ultra-secure mobile devices favored by the defense and security community.”