Monthly Archives: March 2012
The Internet is the new war zone and the new battlefield. Hackers, those neglected nerds, are the new special forces.
Why is the Internet such an important zone for countries to assert their dominance?
The only Media – The Internet is used to build as well as destroy regimes. Sometimes, the Internet is the only way for people to broadcast the oppression when traditional media is suppressed.
Everything is connected – Millions of smartphones, satellite telecommunication, VOIP, and Internet data allow countries to tap into vast amounts of data easily.
For every lock, there is a key – Given enough processing power, any encryption can be broken. Decrypting ; is difficult, but not impossible.
Easy to Propagate disaster - Spyware, malware, virus, root kits, and ransomware can be injected via the Internet to disable critical computer systems.
Destroy the Economy – Inject a virus into the stock market. Cripple banking transactions. And the economy comes to a standstill.
Untraceable – With multiple computer systems across the world, messages that bounce from one system to another multiple times before reaching the destination can never be traced. Cyberwar can also make surgical strikes on specific computer systems and retrieve data quickly.
Sometimes, the only option – Disabling the communication network of the enemy is easier and leads to zero collateral damage as opposed to attacking the enemy.
Many steps are being taken by countries to protect themselves from the threat of Cyberwar. In 2009, President Obama declared America’s digital infrastructure as a Strategic National Asset. In May 2010, the Cyber Command Task Force was established in America.
There is a lot of focus to secure critical systems – both for enterprises and governments. The next war won’t be a nuclear war. It will be a Cyberwar.
Cloud computing, cloud storage, and virtualization technologies have taken the world by storm. However, as of today, we do not rely on cloud computing completely.
But 18 years from now, things will be different. Very different.
How will our computing experience change over the next 2 decades?
- Lightning fast Internet speeds – Today, we have a residential speed of up to 250 Mbps. In the late 90s, it used to be 256 Kbps. Analyzing the geometric progression of Internet speeds, we will most likely have residential speeds of 500 Gbps.
- Applications on the Cloud – Google Docs are already available over the cloud. Microsoft Office is also available over the Cloud. It would not be surprising to have all our programs installed on the Cloud instead of our hard drives. You don’t have to worry about software upgrades, bug fixes, or even licensing. Going forward, you could see operating systems on the Cloud. Do you need to use Windows Server 2030 today? Just logon to the Cloud.
- Data on the Cloud – This is again, not a very new concept. With multiple Cloud storage options available today, it can only mean that all hard drives in the future are virtual hard drives on the Cloud. All the data will be on the Cloud. Your computer may get stolen, or destroyed in a fire. But your data will remain safe and accessible from across the globe.
- Virtualized Hardware – Two decades from now, you could buy processing power over the Internet without having to upgrade your home computer. Wouldn’t that be cool? Also, you could rent more processing power in the short run for an upcoming project. After the project is done, you could scale back and reduce the processing power. Similarly, you could increase or decrease the memory at will. You don’t need to run to Best Buy to upgrade to the new, faster processing chip!
- Virtual Reality – With exponential processing power, faster hardware, super-speed Internet, and infinite cloud storage, there will be virtual reality instead of just browsing the Internet. You could first go and walk around in your local Sears store ‘virtually’ before going there ‘physically’. You could see and feel the items before even setting foot in the store.
- Cloud will be the new hangout – Do you want to meet at my Cloud or at your Cloud? Do you want to have a quick online virtual meeting at my cloud? Lets do some research at my cloud and then transfer the data back to your Cloud.
- Iris Scan will be your encryption – Wear your headset, scan your iris, and enter the Internet. With multitude of hacking and cyber warfare incidents, encryption via secure authentication will be required to get on to the Internet and access your Cloud. You will then be able to access everything, go anywhere, do anything – virtually.
- The biggest datacenter will control everything – The biggest datacenter providing the cheapest and fastest cloud storage will control the Internet. Datacenters will be built in the Arctic so the cold air could be used to cool the CPUs.
Two decades from now, we will not be limited by processing power, memory, or even storage. Scalability, sustainability, security, and reliability of technology will ensure that the Cloud is widely used and adopted across the world.
The Internet will finally be called The Cloud.
A little while ago, I was facing a very classic dilemma. I had two distinctly useful but equally important options:
- I need a netbook for traveling. A compact netbook, with a battery life of 8 hours or more suited my requirements perfectly. I could use it for surfing the Internet on WIFI when I am out and about.
- I also need a desktop that is permanently attached to my printer. Whenever I need to print something, I don’t want to boot up my laptop, take it to the printer, plug it in, and print a few pages. I want a permanent kiosk-type setup where I could quickly surf the Internet when required and never have to wait for my laptop to boot up.
The dilemma was: which one should I get first? If I got the netbook, I would still have to go back and forth between the printer in the den and whatever room I happened to be in. If I got the desktop first, I would not have a computer when I travel. Obviously, I would not be using both at the same time.
After a lot of deliberation, I hit upon an idea: why couldn’t I have both? And so I set about putting together a custom-designed kiosk setup.
After buying the appropriate netbook, I set about collecting the remaining items:
- An old monitor that I bought at a charity auction for $5. Finding a slim LCD monitor at that price point was the icing on the cake.
- A new USB Keyboard and mouse that I bought from the local electronics store.
- One of the many ethernet cables from the big box of wires in the attic.
Because I plan to leave the netbook plugged in at all times, I did not want the battery to die. To stop that from happening, I removed the battery from the netbook and stored it safely for use when I travel. I then plugged in the power directly to the netbook and attached the USB mouse, USB keyboard, and Ethernet cable (to the router). I finally connected the monitor to the VGA port.
Just like that, my kiosk was ready. The netbook is always on and serves as a printing or surfing station at home making it just like a desktop. When I travel, I just unplug all the wires, snap on the battery and take it with me.
With a little creative thinking, I finally have one computer that serves two purposes – netbook as well as a desktop.
The last few years have been extremely difficult for RIM. The troubled company has been trying to hold on to its success of the past decade. With iOS, Android, and Windows mobile grabbing the market share, RIM is unable to keep the growth steady. In fact, the market share is dwindling and the shareholders are not very happy.
Focus on strengths
RIM has a few strengths that are unbeatable. The patented keyboard is the biggest one. You can type without looking at the phone! You can type quite fast and so far, no other device has been able to come up with a better keyboard. This keyboard obviously provides better user experience for business users. For example, much as I love the iPad, I can’t ever imagine typing without a keyboard for extended periods of time.
Encryption is the nuclear arsenal
Governments, mega-corporations, law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and even individuals have great use for the encryption provided by BlackBerry. Nobody has been able to come up with a better encryption system. There have been instances where even governments have been unable to decrypt the code and they have asked RIM to place a server locally. It’s that secure. RIM must enhance and market the encryption feature on the BlackBerry that no other mobile manufacturer can give us today.
Don’t ape the gorilla
If Apple came up with an iPad, RIM did not have to ape Apple. HP actually killed its tablet project. If a mammoth like HP can stop manufacturing the tablet, RIM should have never entered the tablet market in the first place. RIM should just focus on its niche area and strive to succeed. RIM does not have to start competing on every front. Remember what happened when Adolf Hitler attacked Russia during World War II? Germany was fighting on multiple fronts. Similarly, RIM needs to stay focused and not compete on all fronts by aping competitors.
Kill the Touch Screen
There are numerous Android and iOS touch screen devices out there. RIM need not build another one. BlackBerry Storm never did as well as the BlackBerry Curve or the BlackBerry Pearl!
Gaming Apps aren’t the only thing in the world!
It’s true that apps lead to a lot of revenue. Business users use quite a few apps. Moreover, Business = Revenue; so theoretically, business apps can generate a lot of revenue since a business will see value in spending for it. BlackBerry, being a business phone, needs to focus only on promoting apps for business and maybe social media. Focusing on all types of apps is pointless and even if developers build a wide range of apps (say, for education) it is a bit too late for RIM to enter new app markets.
Create New Markets
RIM must use its strengths to venture into new markets where nobody can follow.
- Licensing its encryption to high-security areas like Defense, Financial Telecommunication (like SWIFT), or secure Government communication.
- Licensing its encryption to enterprises will lead to a lot of revenue. BYOD will work if companies use RIM servers and integrate it with various devices. I am sure companies want secure communication and also allow users to use the iPhone.
- Licensing its encryption to consumers directly will also lead to a lot of revenue. RIM can come up with an app that allows all iPhone users and Android users use its encryption. RIM can charge for the iPhone/Android app and also a subscription fee to generate revenue.
If companies like Surf Easy and Hotspot Shield can make money just by selling encryption, so can RIM. I would surely pay $50 for an app or $10 a month for as service that allows secure communication between my iPhone and the Internet that nobody in the world can hack into. Imagine the revenue RIM could generate from the millions of smartphones out there!
- RIM can also venture into building new devices for law enforcement. For example, a BlackBerry with a fingerprint recognition device built-in that scans and identifies fingerprints securely from various government databases will generate a lot of revenue. This device will enhance national security and nations will surely spend for it.
Apple (iOS) and Google (Android) are the new kids on the block. However, RIM has been here forever (well, almost forever). Only time will tell if RIM will emerge unscathed from this bloodthirsty mobile war, or whether it will fade away into oblivion. Until then, the clickety-clack sounds of BlackBerry will keep ringing in our ears.
(Originally published at http://www.faronics.com/2012/how-can-rim-survive-the-mobile-market-bloodbath/)