Apple has always marketed the strong security of iOS with features like the Secure Enclave and hardware encryption. Despite the acknowledged superiority of iOS security compared to Android, customers have granted Android a larger market share. How might Apple's new efforts affect that equation?
Every crisis brings new opportunities. When I first read the news that Apple is reportedly already working on new ways to improve iPhone and iCloud security, I started thinking about the implications. For background, see: "FBI Wants into our iPhones, so Apple is Making Them More Secure." Jeff wrote:
Sources speaking with the New York Times said Apple is working on ways to make the passcode hack impossible. Sources talking with the Financial Times said Apple is developing new security features to block its own ability to recover data from iCloud accounts, too.
As Apple supposedly works to achieve this better, even absolute, iOS system security, immune to the kinds of hacks currently possible, what will be the impact on the rest of the industry?
- Will Samsung, always eager to replicate Apple's features, demand to work with Google to achieve an equivalent level of security?
- Will this technical implementation interfere with Android's agenda to know so much about the user that it can provide helpful assistance?
- Will the current public discussion between Apple and the FBI make Android customers more aware of the security issues with their own smartphones, especially those locked into older versions of Android due to fragmentation?
- If Google/Android, for whatever commercial or technical reason, fails to duplicate Apple's notable efforts to deeply secure iOS, will it have an impact on the relative market share of these two smartphone OSes?
- Suppose Google/Android and Microsoft fail to achieve the same level of smartphone security and privacy as Apple. What would be the political consequences, without a national consensus or law on the paramount importance of citizen privacy, regarding the iPhone being dubbed the "favored device" of terrorists?
- In light of the above, should Apple work with competitors. in order to support its just cause? Or keep its technology proprietary in order to gain a competitive advantage? One that might be, heaven forbid, eventually overturned by Congressional legislation?
I am just beginning to think about this, and I may not even be asking the right questions. (What are your questions?) What I do know, however, is that both Google/Android and Microsoft are next up to bat when it comes to the kinds of demands the FBI and other government organizations will be making.
I think it's doubtful that Apple's competitors have any choice but to follow Apple's lead, at least in the U.S. And that has repercussions for the smartphone industry worldwide. We're just getting started.