Apple's Next Competitor: Boeing?

There have been plenty of odd competitive mashups in our time of two seemingly unrelated companies stepping into the same ring to duke it out.

There's been IntelversusNetflix as well as Wal-Martversus, um, Netflix, among many others. Here are the latest two juggernauts you probably never thought would be on the same playing field: Mac maker Apple (NAS: AAPL) and highflier Boeing (NYS: BA) .

As much as I'd like to tell you Apple has a secret project to develop a sleek, minimalist iPlane to take down Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, that's not the case. This rivalry in the making involves the aerospace company working to enter the smartphone business. That's right -- the "Boeing phone."

Boeing is making a smartphone that will run on Google (NAS: GOOG) Android. Roger Krone, Boeing president of network and space systems, said this is likely a first for the industry, while another exec, Brian Palma, said the "Boeing phone" is readying for a late 2012 launch.

Let's be clear. This is not going to be just another consumer smartphone that you'll be able to waltz down to your local retailer and pick up. We're talking about a highly secure encrypted device geared toward the government, defense, and intelligence markets. Palma said similar devices that use proprietary software and hardware go for upwards of $15,000 to $20,000 per device.

Palma said Boeing will try to drive the price down, but we're still not talking about mass-market consumer-price levels.

The government market is specifically an area Apple has been increasingly tapping into lately. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives uses iPads and iPhones. The Department of Veterans Affairs recently canceled a long-term contract with Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) , opening the doors to an iPhone transition.

More recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just ditched Research In Motion's (NAS: RIMM) BlackBerry to make the iSwitch, after which the General Services Administration also kicked RIM to the curb.

This is a market where Boeing might see some success. While Apple is surely going after it, it's obviously more concerned with the consumer market and isn't going to plunk as many resources into chasing government agencies, as Boeing may be willing to do.

So Apple and Boeing may soon find themselves at each other's necks in a niche part of the market, but compete they will.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorEvan Niuowns shares of Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out hisholdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Intel, Apple, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart Stores.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Microsoft, Google, Apple, Intel, Netflix, and Wal-Mart Stores, creating bull call spread positions in Microsoft and Apple, and creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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