The Federal Government's peak security agency this week said that it hasn't yet started evaluating Google's Android platform for use within the public sector, because it saw no immediate need.
The organisation responsible for certifying technology software and hardware for use by government agencies in Australia is the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), which sits within the Department of Defence. Historically, the organisation has focused on certifying mobile operating systems from BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) and from Microsoft.
Last week, the organisation took steps to recognise the growing popularity of Apple's iOS platform used on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. DSD has published a guide on "hardening" the devices — increasing their security. The organisation is currently evaluating iOS for official certification for use in the public sector at different security levels, with a judgment due in September this year.
However, the security agency doesn't appear as keen on Google's rival Android platform.
"The Android platform has not yet been submitted for DSD evaluation," Defence said in response to a question on the issue this week. "At this time, the use of the Android platform for Australian government business does not necessitate the production of a hardening guide."
It added that DSD, as the Commonwealth authority on information security, would continue to provide advice and assistance for technology based on the "business requirements" of Australian government users of technology. "To do this, DSD works closely with industry partners to enable effective information security options for Australian government agencies," they said.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Android platform is not yet being used widely in Australian government departments and agencies. Most users still use BlackBerry devices, with Apple's iPhone and iPad models increasingly being the new flavour of the month.
However, in the broader community, Australian use of the Android platform is skyrocketing.
Analyst house IDC recently published a report suggesting that, by the end of this year, there will be more Android-based smartphones being sold in Australia than iPhones.
"Android remains on track to become the most popular smartphone OS in Australia this year, although Apple is doing its best to delay Android from reaching this milestone. The weakness in Symbian and slow initial growth of Windows Phone are providing a stimulus for iOS and Android, which will battle head-to-head for the top spot in 2011," said IDC telecommunications analyst Mark Novosel in late June.
The news mirrors results seen earlier this year in the United States, where the Android platform finally pulled ahead of Apple in terms of total US smartphone subscribers. In addition, Apple's iPad platform is seeing a strong degree of local competition at the moment from rival tablets based on Android.
In Australia, the Android platform is being pushed by a number of major handset manufacturers, with the list including Asian giants like HTC, Samsung and LG, as well as global company Sony Ericsson and even US company Motorola.