The Pentagon cleared Apple Inc. (AAPL) devices for use on its networks, setting the stage for the maker of iPhones and iPads to compete with Samsung Electronics Co. and BlackBerry for military sales.
The Defense Department said in a statement today that it has approved the use of Cupertino, California-based Apple’s products running a version of the iOS 6 mobile platform.
The decision eventually may spur a three-way fight for a market long dominated by Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry. The Pentagon on May 2 approved Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung’s devices, as well as BlackBerry 10 smartphones and BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.
The Pentagon has depended on BlackBerrys, which have consistently received federal certification for protecting sensitive data.
The Defense Department has more than 600,000 mobile devices, including 470,000 BlackBerrys, 41,000 Apple products and 8,700 devices running Google Inc.’s Android operating system, according to the agency. Many of the Apple and Android products in use aren’t connected to military networks except for testing.
Samsung, the largest seller of smartphones for commercial use, worked with the U.S. National Security Agency to create a secure version of Google’s Android operating system with multiple layers of software and hardware protection, Tim Wagner, a Samsung vice president, has said.
The Galaxy S4 released in April will be the first smartphone using the new system, known as Knox, according to Samsung.
The military has said it wants employees to have the flexibility to use commercial products on its networks. It plans to create a military mobile applications store and hire a contractor to build a system that may handle as many as 8 million devices.
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