(Bloomberg) -- Companies such as Lookout Inc. that provide security software for mobile devices stand to gain from a recently announced Defense Department mobile computing strategy that will reshape the military's $124 million market for the devices and related technology.
The policy opens the door to greater use of employee-owned devices to access Pentagon networks, which may lead to increased spending to develop mobile software applications.
The new policy covers mobile applications, devices and wireless infrastructure. It applies to the more than 250,000 officially sanctioned commercial devices currently operating on defense information networks, according to the Pentagon.
The Defense Department purchased $38 million in mobile device hardware during fiscal 2011, according to Bloomberg Government data. Research in Motion Ltd, or RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, led with $21.7 million in orders for BlackBerry devices, about 57 percent of the military's total spending on mobile devices and services in 2011.
Apple Inc., based in Cupertino, California, was second, with $15.1 million in orders. Devices using the Android operating system, created by Google Inc., based in Mountain View, California, represented about 3 percent of fiscal 2011 total defense mobile spending.
During fiscal years 2007 through 2011, the Army placed $73.4 million in mobile orders, the most of all the military services and agencies. The Army spent $52 million for BlackBerrys and made $21 million in Apple orders during the five years. The Navy was second, purchasing $14.7 million in mobile hardware during the period.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, spent the most on Android devices, $637,000 from fiscal 2007 to fiscal 2011. DARPA represents about 50 percent of the Defense Department Android market. This is primarily due to DARPA's projects testing secure mobility and mobile applications.
Mobile Security Opportunity
As the Pentagon prepares to embrace the use of employee-owned devices at work, a trend known as bring your own device, or BYOD, the new policy will require added security on all mobile devices that access defense networks.
The policy establishes a developer and certification framework for mobile applications built for use on defense information networks. This would create a new mobile application environment requiring additional security controls to protect the networks and devices from viruses and malware.
Mobile applications and security solutions will be required to work across multiple mobile platforms such as Apple iOS, RIM BlackBerry, Windows Phone7 and Android.
Defense software development contract opportunities probably will increase; growth in Pentagon purchases of mobile devices may be constrained.
The policy also would require the development of a web-based mobile device support system, or help desk, for government- and employee-owned devices.
DARPA leads in mobile application and security research and development contracts for the military. In January, the agency awarded McLean, Virginia-based, SAIC Inc., a contract valued up to $8 million over five years, to research secure mobile networking tools. DARPA has awarded 11 mobile security research awards to small businesses under its Cyber Fast Track program.
In addition to Lookout, based in San Francisco, companies that stand to gain from increased demand for mobile computing security include Good Technology Inc, based in Sunnyvale, California, and McAfee Inc of Santa Clara, California.
By Jason Wilson | June 22, 2012 02:50PM ET
Jason Wilson is a federal technology analyst with Bloomberg Government. Before joining Bloomberg, he was a cybersecurity policy and strategy consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton working with clients in the intelligence community and Defense Department. He holds a master's degree in government from Georgetown University and is currently working towards a Ph.D.