BlackBerry 10 Cleared for US Ahead of Launch

In today’s mobile news roundup: BlackBerry 10 get U.S. security clearance ahead of launch; Microsoft Office app for iOS and Android; Lenovo set to rival top dogs in mobile industry; and network carriers to waive fees for Hurricane Sandy victims.

BlackBerry 10 gets U.S. security clearance ahead of launch

Though Research in Motion has yet to release BlackBerry 10, the long overdue update to their mobile platform, they’ve already secured a very important approval that could possibly tip the scale to their advantage.  Once again, RIM managed to acquire FIPS 140-2 certification, which means U.S. and Canadian government branches, as well as private companies, can deploy the BlackBerry 10 devices upon launch.

The Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) certification is issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and it is only given to devices qualified to be used by the government, verifying that sensitive or classified material can be sent using the certified devices.  RIM’s tablet, the PlayBook, was given the same certification last year.

Microsoft Office app for iOS and Android

According to The Verge, several sources close to Microsoft revealed that the software giant is indeed planning on launching a mobile version of Office 2013 for iOS and Android by next year, despite the fact that last month, Microsoft’s head of corporate communications, Frank X. Shaw, denied Petr Bobek’s , Microsoft Office portfolio manager in the Czech Republic, statement that Office 2013 will be released by March 2013.

Office Mobile will be consisted of several free apps – versions of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, that iOS and Android users can use to view Microsoft documents.  Users will need a Microsoft account to view these documents, and editing functions will come with an Office 365 subscription.  The iOS version is expected to launch by February or early March, while the Android version will be coming in May.

When asked for a comment regarding the matter, Microsoft no longer denied the rumor and stated that, “Office will work across Windows Phone, iOS and Android.”

Lenovo set to rival mobile industry’s top dogs

Lenovo is said to be the leading PC vendor, outshining HP and Dell in the process.  Though that is extremely great news for the company, the PC business is slowly dying as analysts see this as a “sunset industry.”  So the next step is to invade the mobile industry, currently dominated by Samsung and Apple.

In China, Lenovo sold 8.6 million phones, including 7 million smartphones during the second quarter, putting them in second place behind Samsung.  They want to translate their success in China to the rest of the world.  Though mobile may be the next frontier for the Chinese company, that doesn’t mean that they will be abandoning the PC market anytime soon – that would still be their bread and butter.

Network carriers to waive fees for Hurricane Sandy victims

Aside from providing mobile charging stations in Hurricane Sandy-affected areas, Verizon stated that customers throughout New Jersey will not be billed usage charges for domestic voice and text usage incurred between October 29 and November 16.  Affected Verizon customers don’t have to do anything to be eligible for the offer, as charges incurred during the said dates will automatically be removed from their bill.

Other networks are also helping Sandy victims, with AT&T extending the late-payment window for Sandy-affected customers, waiving late fees, and not disconnecting services because of non-payment.  Sprint waived late fees, overage charges, roaming and call-forwarding fees, and renewal extension for prepaid services, and T-Mobile promised to continue providing service to prepaid and contract customers unable to make a payment on their account until today, November 8.