Military mobile apps store gets $6.4M to open

DARPA wants mobile Android apps, iPhone could come later

The US military wants cool mobile apps just like the rest of us and with an award today of $6.4 million to the Corporation for National Research Initiatives to build an app store, it has taken a giant step toward getting theirs.

The app store falls under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's grand Transformative Apps Program which looks to rapidly develop and bring an array of applications to military mobile phones.  DARPA says that at least initially, all apps should target an open source mobile platform.  Meaning Android will be the platform of choice for the first apps.

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In DARPA's words: "A military apps marketplace will be created to enable rapid innovation to meet user needs based on a direct collaboration between a vibrant and highly competitive development community and involved communities of end-users. The program will address all the challenges - technical, business, and operational - faced to make the new capabilities available for use in the field. The end objective is to transition the resulting systems to the end users in the Services, and to foster a new model for rapidly and effectively acquiring, introducing, maintaining, and enhancing software."

DARPA said the program will lean heavily on existing commercial handhelds for the initial development efforts. Initially, at least two distinct repositories are envisioned: one holding beta apps that are queued for initial app evaluations, and a separate repository holding apps that have been vetted, certified and approved for use. While the certification process will ultimately involve government organizations, new tools and ideas are needed to streamline and effectively evaluate and mitigate security risks and network problems, DARPA stated.  

In the end, the goal is to demonstrate a lightweight, inexpensive, mobile GSM cellular infrastructure with wideband data services, at least GPRS/EDGE or equivalent with path to 3G. Base station price unit goal is $5000, DARPA stated.

Work is expected to be completed by September 2012. 

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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