Best Wishes for 2011

A new year is beginning, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have been reading this blog, commenting on it, and basically supporting me throughout these years. Although I have not been very active, the year has been tough, and this blog has brought some support at crucial times.

Even though I was not writing actively, I have spent a lot of time thinking of the business side of things (must be an age thing). Over the year, I have developed a passionate view of user-centered businesses, and more generally, of the fact that business does not necessarily have to be evil.

Reading about VRM, and regularly reading the Harvard Business Review has helped me develop a few new ideas. In particular, reading Umair Haque’s The New Capitalist Manifesto has been one of the highlights of 2010, because the book does not simply mention has business should be better, but it also shows how some businesses are already benefitting from being better, and that feels really good. If you want a bit of that feeling, reading the book is the best way, but you can also take a lookat the book’s blog.

The next part is to apply all these nice principles. I don’t know yet where and what my 2011 job will be about, but I will definitely spend some time and energy on that, and I hope that I will be able to share some of these thoughts here. But here are a few ways to start rebooting our business of smart cards and mobile security, by reminding a few things:

  • Real people don’t really care about security. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t care about it, it means that we should naturally include it in products that real people want to use. Security is not a selling point, and bad security is not always considered an issue.
  • Our mobile device is our personal device. We use our mobile phones for a lot of things, and that’s why these devices can be used to do even more. Our mobiles are our most personal connected object, let’s make it our root of trust.
  • A mobile is more secure than a PC (today). Yes, using SIM cards and Trusted Execution Environments is important; but today, our mobile devices remain much more secure than our (Windows) PC, at least because they are less targeted. This may change, but it gives a nice window of opportunity for pushing interesting trust-related products with little security headaches.
  • Over 90% of the people of the world are poorer than we are. Not everybody has an iPhone, but most have a mobile phone. Most don’t have bak accounts, but they have money. All of us need to exchange, to communicate, to trust, etc. We just have different ways. Let’s not just consider the habits of the rich.

So, I wish us all to remix all of this into fresh technical and business ideas, and to make something out of these in 2011.

Plus, of course, the usual wishes for health, wealth, and most importantly, happiness, extended to all the people you care about. And to spice things up, let’s hope for some good, disruptive change that will make our lives better.

2 Comments

  • I would disagree on one point : our mobile devices are less and less our personnal devices.

    The SIM on my phone gives some control to the phone operator, the smarter the phone, the more control the licence gives to the vendor.

    One cannot use an iphone, without accepting itunes licence, then itms licence, which give many rights to apple.

    Personnally I cannot use as root of trust a device I do not fully control, and that other may modify as they wish (see amazon removing ebooks from kindles).

  • Hi Erwan,

    Thanks a lot for the comment. You are right to remind us that our phones are partially under control of other companies. Nevertheless, I don’t agree with you that smartphones are more under control than other phones. The ability to download third-party applications allows us to do many things that are beyond the control of the device vendor and operator.

    Also, the meaning I intended for “personal” was more in the range of “the closest device to our person”, rather than “controlled by me”. Somehow, our phone is personal a bit like our Facebook account is personal: it is closely linked to our person, even though our control over it control is at best dubious.

    The “root of trust” issue also is very interesting. Today, with Facebook Connect allows many people to use their Facebook cerdentials as root of trust. The mobile phone can at least add a hardware part to it, like 2-factor authentication. Now, I would agree with you that I may prefer a “root of trust” provided by a third-party application, itself controlled by an entity I trust. However, I am afraid that this may be a side effect of our geekitude.

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