updated 01:36 am EDT, Fri May 25, 2012
Intended for media production, forensics, software development
The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may purchase up to $3 million in Apple hardware over the next three years. Up to a thousand Macintosh and a thousand iOS mobile devices purchases are planned. The Apple equipment has been declared to be "critical to meet a variety of operational, programmatic, and mission-specific requirements" by the TSA.
Apple hardware has traditionally made few inroads in federal agencies, mostly due to the requirement that purchasing by government organizations must specifically allow for open contracting and non-specificity of hardware. For instance, if a computer is required, generally, the request isn't allowed to specify branding such as "Dell Computer" or "HP computer," and it must simply say "computer."
The TSA argues that only Apple equipment will fit the need now, and since OS X and iOS are not available on other platforms, only Apple hardware can be used for the foreseeable future. The amplifying information attached to the justification also indicates that many of the 106 government-written mobile apps are only available on Apple's iOS.
A similar request has been made for Android equipment, but no details are available. The TSA filing has listed the entire range of Apple offerings, including iPads, iPhones, iPods, Apple TVs, Macintosh computers, warranties such as AppleCare, and other materials needed to support Apple products in a production environment.
The equipment is primarily intended for media production, forensic information technology assessments, mobile usage, and software development. The request comes after reports from federal tipsters claiming fewer BlackBerry purchases, and employees and military personnel being allowed to use their own smartphones.