The feds' shift to Android could give it a big business boost, too

Defense contractor General Dynamics links up with Samsung and HTC to make off-the-shelf Android secure

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Government technology today, business technology tomorrow
What makes this possible is the fact that OK Labs has been working with HTC and Samsung to bring this dual-VM technology into Android smartphones for any business, not just the military or federal government. In fact, we should see real products on the market in early 2013, if not sooner. The HTC deal has been known for a while, but the Samsung partnership is a new revelation. It's a big one, given that Samsung is the leading Android vendor and second only to Apple as a mobile economic powerhouse.

With GD's ownership, Samsung and HTC can be more confident that there's a big-enough market for such devices in government, giving them the incentive to proceed with actual products, not just demonstration models. This is a well-known pattern for such pervasive technologies as the Internet, email, and virtualization.

The expected federal demand should make it easier for Samsung and HTC to offer similar products to businesses, especially those with higher levels of security requirements. They too could gain tight control over the business VM on such Android smartphones while letting users do whatever they want on the separate personal VM -- satisfying both management and employees in one device.

GD is sure hoping so: It needs to grow outside the defense business, now that the $4 trillion Iraq and Afghanistan wars are winding down and the federal coffers have been emptied. It sees OK Labs' dual-VM technology as a great way to grow both its federal business and its corporate business through the red-hot mobile focus. Both OK Labs CEO Steve Subar (who, along with the rest of the OK Labs staff, remains with GD) and James Norton, GD's vice president of business development in the C4 unit that OK Labs is now part of, confirmed that goal. As Subar put it, the sales pitch is simple: "If it's good enough for [Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta to use, it's good enough for your company."

Yes, there are many ways the government or GD could screw this up. Apple could also decide a high-security iPhone and iPad suddenly make business sense -- which might help Washington policy makers feel more comfortable as Apple is a domestic company, unlike Samsung and HTC. But the feds also don't like single-sourced products, which gives the Android ecosystem an advantage. Besides, the feds trust companies like GD to keep their subcontractors and partners in line.

If the OK Labs promise is realized, in a few years we could seen an Android-heavy government, as well as perhaps an Android-heavy enterprise.

This article, "The feds' shift to Android could give it a big business boost, too," was originally published at Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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