The Department of Defense has awarded a $2.9 million contract to build an app store for use on its networks. Maryland firm Digital Management has been given a year-long contract and tasked with developing a "mobile device management system and mobile application store" that can handle the Pentagon's security needs. For the past few years, high-security government agencies have been nudging their doors open for modern smartphones, and the Defense Department is no exception. It approved devices running BlackBerry 10, iOS, and Samsung's Knox platforms for use on military networks in May, and it's run pilot programs with the intention of securing wireless network access for devices.
Part of Digital Management's job will involve creating a system that makes it easier for multiple platforms to work together. The Department of Defense has traditionally been a BlackBerry shop, but that's slowly changing, especially as iOS and Android phones move out of initial pilot programs and clearer security procedures are developed. Besides that, the military is also looking specifically to app ecosystems as a way to boost its capabilities.
Contractors have developed systems that turn the iPad into a military reconnaissance tool, and the Army and Navy have sponsored app contests to improve the tools available for training, threat analysis, or communication. And in 2012, the Defense Department released the plans for its own internal app store, which would provide everything from a security certification platform to a distribution system. In this release, Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr. said that a platform would let the military "manage devices and the applications that our warfighters use while ensuring our networks and information are secure and protected." After Digital Management's one-year contract is up in July 2014, the Department of Defense will have the option to renew it for four more six-month periods and a total of roughly $16 million.