Google Android, Apple iOS Now on Pentagon's List of Mobile Devices

BlackBerry has dominated Defense Department mobile deployments, but that will likely change as the Pentagon expands its list of supported devices.

Google's Android and Apple's iOS mobile operating systems will now compete with BlackBerry for dominance in mobile device deployments inside the U.S. Department of Defense as the agency moves further away from BlackBerry devices.

In a new Commercial Mobile Device Implementation Plan announced Feb. 26 by the Pentagon, the DoD says it will continue to push ahead with opening its ranks to new devices. The DoD dropped BlackBerry (which was then known as Research In Motion until a name change in January) as its primary mobile device supplier last October.

The move to bring in other devices is part of the defense agency's mobile strategy, adopted in June 2012, which calls for improving the department's mobile devices, wireless infrastructure and mobile applications.

"The Department of Defense is taking a leadership role in leveraging mobile device technology by ensuring its workforce is empowered with mobile devices," Teri Takai, CIO for the DoD, said in a statement. "As today’s DoD personnel increasingly rely on mobile technology as a key capability enabler for joint force combat operations, the application of mobile technology into global operations, integration of secure and non-secure communications, and development of portable, cloud-enabled capability will dramatically increase the number of people able to collaborate and share information rapidly."

The new implementation plan sets out a strategy to equip the department's 600,000 mobile-device users with off-the-shelf mobile equipment for users of secure classified and protected unclassified mobile devices, according to the department. The DoD said it hopes to bring in the other devices and new apps to improve functionality, decrease costs and enable increased personal productivity.

"The DoD Mobile Device Strategy and Implementation Plan aim to align the various mobile devices, pilots and initiatives across the department under common objectives to ensure the warfighter benefits from these activities and aligns with efforts in the Joint Information Environment," Takai said. "This is not simply about embracing the newest technology—it is about keeping the department's workforce relevant in an era when information accessibility and cyber-security play a critical role in mission success."

The DoD is not the only organization that's recently given up on relying solely on BlackBerry devices for its mobile users. In October 2012, the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency announced that it was replacing its BlackBerry devices in a migration to Apple iPhones due to technological shortcomings.

Yahoo made a similar decision a month earlier, when new CEO Marissa Mayer announced that BlackBerry devices would no longer be provided or supported by the company as it moved to full-feature smartphones. Instead, Yahoo said it was moving its workforce over to the iPhone, Android and Windows 8 devices.