The Pentagon officially certified an Android device alongside Android 2.2 for use on Defense Department networks, which would be the first smartphone -other than RIM’s BlackBerry- to receive approval.
Spotted in a Security Technical Implementation Guide (via Stripes and Stars), the latest approval only extends to Dell’s Venue. Dell’s now discontinued Streak tablet was approved previously. Android devices from other vendors, such as HTC, Samsung, Motorola and others, were not covered in the recently published document.
DoD employees have limited access to the device’s feature set, though. The Android Market will be off limits and all web browsing will be done through a DoD proxy server. Moreover, classified information cannot be sent/received or accessed by Android handsets.
Apple’s iPhones and iPads are already being tested by the Defense Information Systems Agency for use on DoD networks; however, the agency is not commenting on when iOS devices might get approval. The Defense Information Systems Agency creates guidelines in cooperation with The National Institute of Standards and Technology for devices operating on military networks.
Restricted access to the Android Market is due to “security reasons,” but the DoD is prepping their own, secure application store. In an interview with Bloomberg earlier this month at the Pentagon, the United States Defense Department’s Chief Information Officer Teri Takai talked about plans to build a “secure network of smartphone apps to help soldiers fight in new ways.” In other words, an app store dedicated to the DoD and accessible from all devices:
“We would like a full range of devices to be able to securely operate with a DoD app store, but also be able to utilize commercial app stores.”
Sales of smartphones and apps to government and military could become a huge source of revenue for vendors and developers. Bloomberg’s data said RIM took in $84 million in 2011 alone through government contracts for BlackBerrys. The U.S. government currently deploys approximately 650,000 BlackBerrys to government employees.