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Google chairman Schmidt's BlackBerry addiction gives BB10 much-needed PR boost

BlackBerry's PR got a great boost Thursday with the news that an unlikely candidate, Google chairman Eric Schmidt, has a BlackBerry addiction he just can't quit.

Speaking with the Guardian, Schmidt, who you'd imagine would be shilling for Google's Android mobile OS at every opportunity, admitted he's still using a BlackBerry because he "likes the [physical] keyboard" still used on many models as opposed to the touchscreen interface utilised for most Android handsets and Apple's iPhone, for that matter.

On Thursday, Schmidt was interviewed by Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger at the Big Tent Activate Summit in New Delhi, India, speaking mainly about topics of more import than his personal taste in smartphones. But the UK newspaper's technology editor Charles Arthur teased out the bit where Google's chairman, apparently rather sheepishly, confessed to the egregious use of a non-Android smartphone.

As Arthur noted, this isn't precisely news - Schmidt has been spotted using a BlackBerry several times before. But confirmation of Schmidt's BlackBerry habit couldn't have come at a better time for the Canadian smartphone manufacturer formerly known as Research in Motion, which endured a roller coaster news cycle over the past 24 hours.

On Wednesday, an Electronista report citing unnamed sources surfaced which claimed the US Department of Defense was planning to replace staff BlackBerry devices - nearly half a million of them - with a massive new order for iPhones, iPads, and other iOS-based devices set to go through after the sequester.

But vindication came swiftly for BlackBerry. Electronista's reporting turned out to be "in error," according to a Pentagon spokesman, who said the DoD was planning to support multiple mobile platforms, including BlackBerry (the tech blog is standing by its report).

BlackBerry itself said that contra an earlier Electronista report, the DoD was "moving forward with testing of BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 and the new BlackBerry Z10 smartphone" running the company's new operating system, BB10.

That same day, the UK government swiftly denied a report in the Guardian that claimed BB10 had been rejected for high-level government work on the grounds that it did not offer enough security.

BlackBerry, the one-time smartphone superstar which has struggled in the face of tough competition from Apple and Google, also announced Thursday that the number of apps available for BB10 has surpassed 100,000.

Add it all up and you've got quite a nice helping of good press for a company which can sorely use as much as it can get these days.