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US Government Looking to buy 63 to 18,000 Tablets to Replace Flight Manuals

US Air Force

Quite a few readers sent in an article today from Bloomberg BusinessWeek which claimed that the US Airforce was looking to buy 18,000 iPad 2’s to act as Electronic Flight Bags. It turns out that the Air Force is actually looking for "a minimum of 63 and a maximum of 18,000, iPad 2, Brand Name or Equal devices" which would throw PlayBook and Android devices into the mix. Sites like The Verge noticed this discrepancy and NextGov proceeded to correct their previous article. This was after Lt. Col. Glen Roberts, AMC public affairs director, said the command "is looking for a tablet device, not necessarily an iPad."

This makes me wonder if RIM is planning on making a serious play to the US government since they are still the only FIPS certified tablet. It would be a great way for RIM to bring in a lower price since the RFP notice on the government website states that they are using the “Lowest Price Technically Acceptable Source Selection Process” for choosing a vendor.

Either way its exciting to see that PlayBook OS 2.0 is finally going to let RIM seriously compete in the tablet space. The question is if they can leverage their business connections to double down on these opportunities.

8 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. RIM better jump on this.. While 18,000 isn’t a HUGE order, it is a good way to get the ball rolling on the PlayBook.

    • agreed, hopefully they get the 10 inch playbook up and running asap as to not be counted out because of size. more options equal better chances of being selected

  2. I have never considered buying between 63-18,000 of anything…

  3. It is interesting that they are listing Flight Manuals.

    The FAA mandates that all commercial pilots must have maps available to them in flight for their entire route and a fair amount around it. Previously this was required to be paper (Either massive binders or a lot of printing).

    The Jeppesson Mobile app on the iPad was the first electronic app that the FAA approved for use (allowing the paper to be left on the ground).

    I wonder if this request requires those certifications by the FAA, or if they will roll their own as it were.

    (I used to do IT for a company that owned a private jet. This occurred while I was working there)

  4. RIM announced recently the FIPS 140-2 certification for Blackberry 7.0 and Blackberry 7.1 devices & everyone knows that BB have always pretty much set the standard for mobile data security. It makes sense for the government to go with a Blackberry device I think.

    They may be using the term “iPad” to refer to a tablet pc. Similar to how so many people refer to an MP3/media player as an “iPod”.

  5. Won’t happen for RIM unless they change the screen size. The requirements specify “Minimum of 9.0″ (diagonal) Maximum of 10.0″ (diagonal)”.

    So unless RIM can get something else out the door soon – not going to happen.

    • Nice spotting that. Seems like they uploaded the spec sheet excel files. Its almost like they are modeling it for the iPad though it does have some interesting ones like: “OS updates should not be dependent upon hardware manufacturers for release”

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