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Boeing plans super-secure Android smartphone for top echelons

Stealth phone due to take off later this year

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Boeing is planning to launch an own-brand super secure Android smartphone for military, government, and high-level commercial users by the end of the year.

Roger Krone, president of Boeing Network and Space Systems, told National Defense Magazine that this is probably the first time the company had got into the cellular phone business and it had picked Android because it wanted a similar feel to consumer devices while including military-grade security for encryption for voice and data traffic.

The phone will "give them what they are used to seeing [on consumer market smartphones] and give them the functionality from the security perspective," Krone said. "We are all living off this thing," Krone said while holding up his smartphone. "And we’re not going back. In fact the next one I have is going to be thinner, smaller and have more capability."

Brian Palma, vice president of the Boeing's secure infrastructure group, said that similar secure phones at that level of the market were selling for $15,000 to $20,000 apiece. The company was aiming for a considerably cheaper price point, but this handset won’t be a mass-market device.

"We are going to drive down towards a lower price point, but . . . not mass-market price point," he said. "We believe that there is significant interest in the defense side as well as the intelligence side and in the commercial world as well."

The news is yet more bad news for Canadian smartphone manufacturer RIM. The US government is still a big customer for RIM. (President Obama reported addiction to his personal BlackBerry and France's premier Nicolas Sarkozy is also keen) and that government sector is a very important part of RIM's revenue stream. But Boeing has great government contracts as well, and could well carve a serious slice of the sector if the price is right. ®

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