Mobile Security: Necessary but Insufficient

Manufacturers that want to move phones have to emphasize more than safety.

In The Age of the Platform, I cover tech behemoths that have recently fallen from grace. The usual suspects include Yahoo!, BlackBerry, and Microsoft.

Interim BlackBerry CEO John Chen recently sent an open letter to his company’s remaining enterprise customers. The goal: to set the record straight about the hype from media and competitors. That is, he is trying to stop the bleeding. Chen is in full damage control mode. His predecessor tried unsuccessfully to find a buyer for the company–and even its spare parts. (To read Chen’s entire letter, click here.)

In the middle of his phalanx of acronyms and a sea of jargon lies a key point of differentiation for BlackBerry (at least in Chen’s view): We make a more secure product compared to Apple, Samsung, Microsoft/Nokia, and the others. The implication: Stay with us. Please. Really.

Mobile security is as important as PC security.

I won’t get into whether or not that assertion on security is actually true. For the sake of the argument, though, I’ll concede the point. But here’s the problem: In an era of BYOD, security alone does not sell tablets and smartphones. And here Chen faces a Sisyphean task. Developers simply choose to spend their time building apps for Android devices, iPhones, and other more popular “platforms.” Lack of a proper ecosystem killed the newest BlackBerry. Ask Brian Blair.

Sure, BlackBerry has checked its boxes. It offers SDKs and the ability to use the APIs of Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, and others. The company even incentivizes developers to build apps. Much like security, though, these are necessary but insufficient conditions for success in the mobile and tablet worlds today.

Simon Says

Mobile security is as important as PC security. That fact alone, though, won’t save BlackBerry. I doubt that anything will. the history of technology teaches us that tech turnarounds like IBM and Apple are the exceptions that proves the rule.

Take security seriously, but it’s only a feature–albeit a critical one. But it’s just one feature. Make sure that your products and services offer more than that.

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While the words and opinions in this post are my own, Dimension Data has compensated me to write it.

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