As if producing commercial airliners, helicopters, and satellites didn’t keep Boeing busy enough, the company revealed earlier this week that they would soon be branching out into a slightly different market. National Defense Magazine reports that Boeing is currently working on an highly-secure Android-based smartphone of all things, and that it should see a release later this year.
Boeing President Roger Krone declined to go into specifics when it came to the device’s hardware or release date, though he did note the Boeing Phone (the company hasn’t officially decided on a name yet) is nearing the end of its development cycle. It seems as though the device has been in the works for a while so it’s a safe bet that the spec sheet won’t be the most competitive, and I wouldn’t expect to see anything newer than Froyo or Gingerbread running on it.
If you hadn’t already guessed, this isn’t the sort of device you’ll be able to pick up at your local mom-and-pop cell phone store. In developing their Android phone, Boeing kept an eye on big competitors in the secure communications market, who often price their proprietary devices in the five-figure range. Thanks in part to the inclusion of a free (not to mention robust) mobile operating system, Boeing plans to introduce their smartphone at a much lower price, which should please the procurement folks within the Defense Department and other security-conscious operations.
Cost apparently isn’t the only reason that Boeing opted to create an Android device — with Google’s OS accounting for over around 50% of the U.S. smartphone market, users are coming to expect more out of their work-issued devices. As Krone told National Defense Magazine’s Stew Magnuson, the Boeing Phone will give customers “what they are used to seeing [on consumer market smartphones] and give them the functionality from the security perspective.”
Boeing isnt the first company to surprise us with news of a security-conscious mobile device — Dell surprised us late last year when they announced that the their discontinued (and oft-maligned) Dell Streak 5 was the first Android device to be given the official seal of approval by the U.S. Department of Defense. Folks within the organization were apparently fond of the mini-slate’s design, though I have to wonder how well those things actually hold up in the field.