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1-15 November 2012 Cyber Attacks Timeline

November 19, 2012 1 comment

The first half of November 2012 has been undoubtedly characterized by Hacktivism. Not only the month has begun with the ProjectBlackStar by the infamous Team Ghostshell (2.5 million accounts leaked belonging to different Russian sectors), but also the long-awaited November 5 has brought an unprecedented wave of Cyber Attacks against organizations all over the world, including Symantec and the UK Ministry Of Defence (more than 3,000 accounts leaked in both cases).

Moreover, after the dramatic event of the 14th of November (the killing of Ahmed Al-Jaabari, the commander of the military wing of Hamas by an Israeli missile and the consequent Operation “Pillar Of Defense”), the Anonymous have started a massive campaign of Cyber Attacks against Israel sites and in support of Palestine. This campaign is still ongoing even if it is really impossible to track all the attacks (nearly 700 defaced web sites so far), and hence, as far as possible, only a general overview is provided.

Of course these events have shadowed the other attacks, including the ones to LG (3,300 accounts leaked in two different cyber attacks) and Adobe (150,000 records allegedly compromised).

The chronicles also report of an alleged cyber attack against Telecom Italia (30,000 accounts allegedly leaked), even if there several doubts about the real authenticity of this attack.

If you want to have an idea of how fragile our data are inside the cyberspace, have a look at the timelines of the main Cyber Attacks in 2011 and 2012 and the related statistics (regularly updated), and follow @paulsparrows on Twitter for the latest updates.

Also, feel free to submit remarkable incidents that in your opinion deserve to be included in the timelines (and charts).

Read more…

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The Dangerous Liaisons (Updated)

August 22, 2011 1 comment

Did you know that a smartphone might involve as many as 250,000 patent claims? You may easily understand why the $ 4.5 billion auction to buy 6,000 Nortel patents by the consortium formed by Apple, Microsoft, Research in Motion, Sony Ericsson and EMC was so cruel. You may also easily understand why Google, the loser of the Nortel auction, decided to react immediately acquiring Motorola and its patent portfolio made of more than 17,000 approved patents (and another 7,500 patents filed and pending approval) for the large sum of $ 12.5 billion.

Said in few words, the mobile arena is getting more and more agressive and cruel. For this reason, a litte bit for curosity, a little bit for fun, I decided to draw a chart (and a table) showing all the moves of the giant players in this mobile chessboard. Although deliberately incomplete (I did not show in the table the patent saga of NTP Inc. against the rest of the world and the settlement of Motorola vs RIM), it gives a good idea of the dangerous intersections involving partnership, fees, alliances and, most of all, lawsuits… With the strange paradox that some companies (read Apple and Samsung) are enemies before the court, but in the same time business partners.

While visualizing the idea I stumbled upon this similar graph showing the status of the mobile arena on 8 Oct 2010. I decided to use the same layout, omitting some informations, but updating it to the current date. The graph is a little bit confusing, but the confusion of the arrows reflects betten than a thousand words the real situation.

Anyway the war will not stop here: the next targets? Interdigital Inc. with its 8,800 patents  which are attracting several bidders such as Apple, Nokia and Qualcomm; and, most of all, Kodak, whose survival depends on the auction of the 10% of its patent portfolio (1,100 patents), valued as high as $3 billion which are vital to compensate the losses estimated in $2.5 billion.

As far as the table is concerned, in order to avoid repetitions, it only shows the status of the lawsuits and alliances from the perspective of Google, Apple and Microsoft. Enjoy your read and the 250,000 patent claims on your smartphone!

Company Filed Suit Against Has technological alliance with Filed Suite From:
  No one (at least so far!)

Of course Google licensees his Mobile OS to HTC and Samsung (in rigorous alphabetical order), and it is the driver for the impressive market share growthof Samsung and HTC.

In an effort to defend Android’s Intellettual Property “to supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing”, on Aug 15 2011, Google announced the intention to acquire Motorola Mobility with a $12.5 billion deal. Motorola has nearly 17,000 patents.

Aug 12 2010: Oracle has filed suit against Google for infringing on copyrights and patents related to Java,. Oracle claimed Google “knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property”. Android uses a light proprietary Java Virtual Machine, Dalvik VM, which, according to Oracle infringes one or more claims of each of United States Patents Nos. 6,125,447; 6,192,476; 5,966,702; 7,426,720; RE38,104; 6,910,205; and 6,061,520.

The case is in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, is Oracle America, Inc v. Google Inc, 10-3561.

The lawsuit is still pending and will likely take several months. The trial between Oracle and Google is expected to begin by November and Oracle is seeking damages “in the billions of dollars” from Google.

On Aug 1 2011, the judge overseeing the lawsuit Oracle filed over the Android mobile OS has denied Google’s attempt to get a potentially damaging e-mail redacted.

Mar 2 2010: Apple sued HTC for infringing on ten patents, nine of which involve technologies which apply to the iPhone, while one involves the use of gestures, but only in a specific use case.

The suit has been filed in the U.S. District Court in Delaware , alleging twenty instances of patent infringement. The company also petitioned the US  ITC to block the import of twelve phones designed and manufactured by HTC.

On Jul 15 2011 Apple won a preliminary patent ruling in an early judgment before the US ITC, in which HTC was found to have breached two of 10 patents held by Apple.

On Aug 8 2011 ITC  announced to have dediced to review Apple’s patent infringement complaint against HTC.

Oct 31 2010: In response to Motorola lawsuit against Apple, Apple sued Motorola and Motorola Mobility for Infringment on several Multi-Touch patents infringments in the Wisconsin Western District Court with two distinct lawsuits. A total of six patents are involved in the two lawsuits.

On Nov 23, 2010: US International Trading Commission announced to review Apple patent case against Motorola.

Apr 18 2011: Apple filed suit against Samsung for copying the design of its iPad and iPhone with its smartphones and tablets.

Aug 10 2011: European customs officers have been ordered to seize shipments of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab computers after the ruling late on Tuesday by a German patents court.

In the last days Apple has been accused of presenting inaccurate evidence against Samsung.

Aug 24 2011: Samsung has been banned from selling some galaxy phones in the Netherlands. The ban is set to begin on October 13, but Samsung doesn’t seem to be taking it too hard.

On Jul 1 2011 the intellectual property of the Canada giant Nortel (in Bankrupt), involving 6,000 patents, was sold for $4.5 billion, in a dramatic auction, to a consortium formed by Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Sony, EMC and Ericsson. Google was the other competitor (and the big looser) for the deal. This event acted as a trigger for the acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google.

On Aug 3 2011, In a post to the Official Google Blog, Google Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond said that Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, and others have waged “a hostile, organized campaign against Android” by snapping up patents from Novell and Nortel and asking Google for high licensing fees for every Android device”, accusing them of Patent Bulying.

Curiously, Apple is one of the main technological partners of Samsung for displays and semi-conductors. Samsung produces Apple’s A4 systems-on-a-chip (SoC) and also the two companies collaborate for iPad displays (Apple is moving from LG to Samsung because oof quality issues of the former). Nevertheless the lawsuits between the two companies are compromising their relationships so that Apple is evaluating a new supplier (TSMC) for its A6 nexy generation chipset.

Oct 22 2009: Nokia sued Apple in Delaware court for infringing on  ten patents related to GSM, UMTS, and WLAN standards that Nokia states they established after investing more than EUR 40 billion in R&D over the last 20 years.

On Jun 14 2011 Apple agreed to pay between $300m and $600m to cover the 111m iPhones sold since its launch in 2007. Although the exact number was not specified, additional yearly fees could be part of the agreement.

On Jan 2010 Kodak sued Apple and RIM claiming Apple is infringing its 2001 patent covering technology that enables a camera to preview low-resolution versions of a moving image while recording still images at higher resolutions. The cases were filed in U.S. District Court in Rochester, N.Y., as well as the U.S. ITC.

On Apr 2010 Apple argues that some Kodak still and video camera products violate two of its patents

On Jul 2011: While Kodak’s claim is pending, the commission rules on Apple’s complaint and says Kodak’s digital-camera technology doesn’t violate Apple’s patents.

Oct 6 2010: Motorola sued Apple for patent infringement in three separate complaints; in district courts in Illinois and Florida and a separate complaint filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission. The suits covered 18 different patents, infiringed by Apple’s iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and certain Mac computers.

The Motorola patents include wireless communication technologies, such as WCDMA (3G), GPRS, 802.11 and antenna design, and key smartphone technologies including wireless e-mail, proximity sensing, software application management, location-based services and multi-device synchronization.

Jan 12 2011: Microsoft has motioned for a summary judgment to block Apple from trademarking the phrase “app store,” as it filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on July 17, 2008.

Mar 30 2011: Microsoft filed a second objection to Apple’s enduring pursuit to trademark the phrase “app store hiring a linguist, Dr. Ronald Butters, to go head-to-head against Apple’s own hired linguist, Robert A. Leonard.

On Jul 1 2011 US ITC said Apple has violated two S3 Graphics Co. patents in its Mac OS X operating system, but not in the iOS platform. Although not directly related to Mobile, this ruling is meaningful since S3 has been acquired by HTC on Jul 6 2011 for $300 million in order to use their patents in the fight against Apple.

HTC expects final ruling on Apple-S3 graphics case in November.

On Aug 16 2011 HTC filed a new lawsuit against Apple in Delaware’s US District Court, in an escalation of the legal battle between the two smartphone giants. HTC accused Apple to have infringed three of HTC’s patents through its sale of devices including iPads, iPods, iPhones and Macintosh computers.

Oct 1 2010: Microsoft sued Motorola for patent infringement relating to the company’s Android-based smartphones. Microsoft filed its complaint with the International Trade Commission and in a Washington state district court. At issue are nine patents that deal with, among others, sending and receiving e-mail, managing and syncing calendars and contacts, and managing a phone’s memory.

Patent dispute will begin from Aug 21 2011, the hearing procedure can take up to 10 days, the judgment procedure is expected to reach the final verdict point only in March 2012.

Nov 9 2010: Microsoft sued again Motorola for charging excessive royalties on network technology used in Microsoft’s Xbox game system.

Feb 11 2011: a deal with the Devil, Microsoft and Nokia announce their plansto form a broad strategic partnership that would use their complementary strengths and expertise to create a new global mobile ecosystem.

Besides the alliances with Apple and RIM (see the corresponding cell), on May 12 2011 Microsoft has teamed up with HTC, Nokia and Sony Ericsson in Europe, filing a challenge seeking to invalidate Apple’s trademarks on the phrases “App Store” and “Appstore.”

Nov 11 2010: Motorola Mobility sued Microsoft with the U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of Florida and the Western District of Wisconsin alleging infringement of sixteen patents by Microsoft’s PC and Server software, Windows mobile software and Xbox products.

Motorola Mobility asked for the infringing devices to be barred from importation into the United States.

On Dec 21 2010, ITC has agreed to hear the complaint.


Looking Inside a Year of Android Malware

August 14, 2011 2 comments

As you will probably know my Birthday post for Android Malware has deserved a mention from Engadget and Wired. Easily predictable but not for me, the Engadget link has been flooded by comments posted by Android supporters and adversaries, with possible trolls’ infiltrations, up to the point that the editorial staff has decided to disable comments from the article. The effect has been so surprising that someone has also insinuated, among other things, that I have been paid to talk s**t on the Android.

Now let me get some rest from this August Italian Sun and let me try to explain why I decided to celebrate this strange malware birthday for the Android.

First of all I want to make a thing clear: I currently do own an Android Device, and convinced, where possible, all my relatives and friends to jump on the Android. Moreover I do consider the Google platform an inseparable companion for my professional and personal life.

So what’s wrong? If you scroll the malware list you may easily notice that the malware always require an explicit consent from the user, so at first glance the real risk is the extreme trust that users put in their mobile devices which are not considered “simple” phones (even if smart), but real extensions of their personal and professional life.

You might say that this happens also for traditional devices (such as laptops), but in case of mobile devices there is a huge social and cultural difference: users are not aware to bring on their pocket dual (very soon four) cores mini-PCs and are not used to apply the same attention deserved for their old world traditional devices. Their small display size also make these devices particularly vulnerable to phishing (consider for instance the malware Android.GGTracker).

If we focus on technology instead of culture (not limiting the landscape to mobile) it easy to verify that the activity of developing malware (which nowadays is essentially a cybercrime activity) is a trade off between different factors affecting the potential target which include, at least its level of diffusion and its value for the attacker (in a mobile scenario the value corresponds to the value of the information stored on the device). The intrinsic security model of the target is, at least in my opinion, a secondary factor since the effort to overtake it, is simply commensurate with the value of the potential plunder.

What does this mean in simple words? It means that Android devices are growing exponentially in terms of market shares and are increasingly being used also for business. As a consequence there is a greater audience for the attackers, a greater value for the information stored (belonging to the owner’s personal and professional sphere) and consequently the sum of these factors is inevitably attracting Cybercrooks towards this platform.

Have a look to the chart drawing Google OS Market share in the U.S. (ComScore Data) compared with the number of malware samples in this last year (Data pertaining Market Share for June and July are currently not available):

So far the impact of the threats is low, but what makes the Google Platform so prone to malware? For sure not vulnerabilities: everything with a line of code is vulnerable, and, at least for the moment, a recent study from Symantec has found only 18 vulnerabilities for Google OS against 300 found for iOS (please do no question on the different age of the two OSes I only want to show that vulnerabilities are common and in this context Android is comparable with its main competitor).

Going back to the initial question there are at least three factors which make Android different:

  1. The application permission model relies too heavily on the user,
  2. The security policy for the market has proven to be weak,
  3. The platform too easily allows to install applications from untrusted sources with the sideloading feature.

As far as the first point is concerned: some commenters correctly noticed that apps do not install themselves on their own, but need, at least for the first installation, the explicit user consent. Well I wonder: how many “casual users” in your opinion regularly check permissions during application installation? And, even worse, as far as business users are concerned, the likely targets of cybercrime who consider the device as a mere work tool: do you really think that business users check app permission during installation? Of course a serious organization should avoid the associated risks with a firm device management policy before considering a wide deployment of similar devices, most of all among CxOs; but unfortunately we live in an imperfect world and too much often fashion and trends are faster (and stronger) than Security Policies and also make the device to be used principally for other things than its business primary role, hugely increasing risks.

This point is a serious security concern, as a matter of fact many security vendors (in my opinion the security industry is in delay in this context) offer Device Management Solution aimed to complete the native Application Access Control model. Besides it is not a coincidence that some rumors claim that Google is going to modify (enhance) the app permission security process.

As far as the second point is concerned (Android Market security policy), after the DroidDream affair, (and the following fake security update), it is clear that the Android Market Publishing (and Security) model needs to be modified, making it more similar to the App Store. There are several proposals in this context, of course in this place is not my intention to question on them but only to stress that the issue is real.

Last but not least Sideloading is something that makes Android very different from other platforms (read Apple), Apple devices do not allow to install untrusted apps unless you do not Jailbreak the devices. Android simply needs the user to flag an option (By The Way many vendors are opening their Android devices to root or alternate ROMs, consider for instance LG which in Italy does not invalidate the Warranty for rooted devices) or HTC which, on May 27, stated they will no longer have been locking the bootloaders on their devices.

So definitively the three above factors (together with the growing market shares) make Android more appealing for malware developers and this is not due to an intrinsic weakness of the platform rather than a security platform model which is mainly driven by the user and not locked by Manufacturer as it happens in case of Cupertino.

What if Android Reassembles The Puzzle?

ComScore has just published its Press Release related to February 2011 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share. 69.5 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in February 2011, up 13 % from the preceding period. As we have become accustomed to a few months, the Android is still on the top, earning 7 percentage points since November 2010, achieving a 33% market share. RIM ranked second with 28.9 percent market share, followed by Apple with 25.2 percent. Microsoft (7.7 %) and Palm (2.8 %) rounded out the top five.

Top Smartphone Platforms:
3 Month Avg. Ending Feb. 2011 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Nov. 2010
Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Smartphone Subscribers
Nov-10 Feb-11 Point Change
Total Smartphone Subscribers 100.0% 100.0% N/A
Google 26.0% 33.0% 7.0
RIM 33.5% 28.9% -4.6
Apple 25.0% 25.2% 0.2
Microsoft 9.0% 7.7% -1.3
Palm 3.9% 2.8% -1.1

Considering the market share on a per-vendor base, provides a different interpretation, and explains some strategic mobile choices of the Mountain View giant. Among the OEM,  Samsung ranked at the #1 with 24.8% of U.S. mobile subscribers, up 0.3 percentage points from the previous three month period. LG ranked #2 with 20.9 percent share, followed by Motorola (16.1 %) and RIM (8.6 percent). Apple saw the strongest gain, up 0.9 percentage points to account for 7.5 percent of subscribers.

Top Mobile OEMs
3 Month Avg. Ending Feb. 2011 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Nov. 2010
Total U.S. Mobile Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Mobile Subscribers
Nov-10 Feb-11 Point Change
Total Mobile Subscribers 100.0% 100.0% N/A
Samsung 24.5% 24.8% 0.3
LG 20.9% 20.9% 0.0
Motorola 17.0% 16.1% -0.9
RIM 8.8% 8.6% -0.2
Apple 6.6% 7.5% 0.9

I am not new to this kind of considerations (already faced in a previous post in Italian), but it is clear that the Android Landscape is becoming a little bit too much fragmented, and this risks to be a serious issue for the Android, both in terms of consumers’ perception, both in terms of security. As far as the consumer perception is concerned: many vendors are pushing more and more customizations not only on their own Android ROMs, but even on the services provided to consumer (read vendor-dedicated markets and services). This sounds confusing for the consumer who will inevitably ask why should he consider, inside the same platform, different parameters of choice external to the mere features of the devices (and how they map to consumer’s need). Not to mention also the tragedy of software updates: a new major release of the Android may take also one year to be ported in some devices, because of the wide customizations made by the manufacturers on their smartphones.

As far as security considerations are concerned, customization affects platform (in)stability and, inevitably security, if it is true that the same code must be adapted to run on different architectures, and security bugs are always behind the door.

These factors are probably behind the rumors claiming that Google has been demanding that Android licensees abide by “non-fragmentation clauses” that give Google the final say on how they can tweak the Android code, to make new interfaces and add services, and also behind the (not confirmed) rumors of standardizing the ARM Chip for Android 3.0. If we sum up these rumors with the fact the Mountain View will not (at least initially) release the Honeycomb Source Code, it looks clear that Google is running for cover in order to stem the excessive number of fragments in which OEM vendors are reducing its precious Android.

The Android is winning the market share battle against Apple and RIM, and forecasts for the next years show a bright future for the Android, destined to achieve nearly the half of the market in 2015. So far the Mountain View Strategy has shown to be winning, but the only obstacle, in this triumphant ride, could by represented by fragmentation, which might drive consumers to the monolithic models of Cupertino and Waterloo.

L’Androide (Virtuale)? E’ Tutto Casa e Lavoro

February 16, 2011 2 comments

In questi i giorni i fari multimediali del mondo sono puntati verso Barcellona, dove si sta svolgendo il Mobile World Congress 2011.

Il lancio dei nuovi tablet ed i commenti del “giorno dopo” relativi alla Santa Alleanza tra Nokia e Microsoft (inclusa l’ostinazione di Intel nel perseguire il progetto MeeGo), l’hanno fatta da padroni. Tuttavia, accompagnato dalla mia immancabile deformazione professionale sono andato alla ricerca, tra i meandri dell’evento, di un qualcosa che non  fosse la solita presentazione di prodotti. Da qualche giorno difatti un tarlo mi assilla, inconsapevolmente incoraggiato dai buchi di sicurezza che, quotidianamente, i ricercatori di tutto il globo scoprono all’interno dei terminali, siano essi Cuore di Mela o Cuore di Androide.

In effetti sembrerebbe proprio che i nostri dati e la nostra vita (professionale e personale), che sempre di più affidiamo a questi oggetti, siano sempre meno al sicuro. Probabilmente, come più volte ripetuto (ma forse mai abbastanza) il peso maggiore di questa insicurezza è da imputare ai comportamenti superficiali degli utenti che, una volta abituatisi alla velocità, comodità e potenza dello strumento, ne dimenticano i limiti fisici ed il confine che separa l’utilizzo personale dall’utilizzo professionale. In teoria la tecnologia dovrebbe supportare l’utente per il corretto utilizzo professionale, tuttavia proprio in questo punto giace il paradosso: il secondo fattore che minaccia la diffusione di smartphone e tablet per un uso massiccio professionale consiste proprio nel fatto che, con l’eccezione della creatura di casa RIM, il famigerato Blackberry, i terminali di casa Apple e Android non sono stati nativamente concepiti per un uso esclusivamente professionale, ma hanno successivamente ereditato funzioni di tipo enterprise costrette a convivere con le altre funzioni del terminale meno adatte all’attività lavorativa (in termine tecnico si chiamano frocerie).

Questo fenomeno è noto come consumerization dell’information technology, ed è uno dei cavalli di battaglia con cui i produttori di sicurezza puntano il dito verso i produttori di tecnologia mobile, e più in generale verso tutte le tecnologie prestate dall’uso di tutti i giorni all’uso professionale (e ora capisco perché i telefoni della serie E di Nokia erano sempre una versione software indietro rispetto agli altri). Alle vulnerabilità di cifratura, delle applicazioni malandrine che escono dal recinto della sandbox, dei vari browser e flash (e perché no anche alla mancanza di attenzione degli utenti), i produttori di sicurezza dovranno porre rimedio, presumibilmente introducendo un livello di protezione aggiuntivo che recinti le applicazioni e le vulnerabilità troppo esuberanti e protegga i dati sensibili dell’utente, più di quanto il sistema operativo e i suoi meccanismi di sicurezza nativi riescano a fare.

L’ispirazione mi è venuta qualche settimana fa, leggendo il Cisco 2010 Annual Security Report, ed in particolare un passaggio ivi contenuto:

Mobility and Virtualization Trends Contributing to Renewed Focus on Data Loss Prevention

Ovvero la prossima frontiera della mobilità sarà proprio il DLP, in termini tecnologici e di conformità (procedure e tecnologie di DLP hanno sempre alla base necessità di compliance). Nel mondo mobile le due strade convergono inevitabilmente: il primo passo per una strategia di protezione dei dati e di separazione netta tra necessità personali e professionali si snoda attraverso la virtualizzazione del Sistema Operativo Mobile: un argomento che avevo già affrontato in un post precedente e per il quale mi sono chiesto, dopo l’annuncio dello scorso anno di Vmware e LG, se al Mobile World Congress 2011, sarebbero arrivate novità.

Il mio intuito ha avuto ragione e mi sono imbattuto in questo video in cui Hoofar Razivi, responsabile Vmware del product management, ha dimostrato, durante l’evento, l’utilizzo dell’applicazione di virtualizzazione sul dispositivo LG Optimus Black, sfoggiando uno switch semplice ed istantaneo tra i due sistemi operativi (Android ospitante e la versione Android embedded di Vmware) senza necessità di effettuare il reset del dispositivo.

Il terminale è così in grado di ospitare due versioni del sistema operativo: una personale, ed una professionale controllata centralmente dall’Organizzazione. Le policy che è possibile controllare nell’Androide professionale includono ad esempio la disabilitazione del cut and paste per prevenire la copia di dati sensibili, la disabilitazione di fotocamera, GPS e il Bluetooth. Esiste inoltre un client VPN interno e, come ulteriore protezione, i dati dell’Androide professionale, la cui immagine è cifrata in condizioni normali e può risiedere anche nella scheda SD, possono inoltre essere cancellati remotamente.

L’applicazione, che sarà sugli scaffali nella seconda metà di quest’anno, non dipende dal sistema operativo sottostante e può essere resa disponibile in modalità Over-The-Air, così può virtualmente funzionare su qualsiasi terminale (a patto che abbia abbastanza risorse). E’ molto probabile che sarà disponibile anche per altri sistemi operativi, sulla scia anche di quanto fatto da RIM che sta per presentare la propria soluzione BlackBerry Balance, concepita per gestire in maniera separata le informazioni personali e quelle aziendali all’interno di una Mora RIM.

Alla fine sembra proprio che, almeno nel mondo mobile, la virtualizzazione servirà per aumentare il livello di sicurezza dei dispositivi.

Matrimonio Con Il Morto

February 6, 2011 3 comments

Sembra che le voci di un possibile matrimonio tra Microsoft e Nokia, siano destinate a trovare conferma tra pochissimi giorni, forse addirittura l’11 febbraio. Il matrimonio dovrebbe avere come dote principale Windows Phone 7 che potrebbe andare ad equipaggiare i terminali di casa Nokia, che in tal caso vedrebbe modificare drasticamente la propria immagine: da produttore di una piattaforma completa (hardware più software) a semplice costruttore di terminali, alla stregua di altri colossi quali LG, HTC, (parzialmente) Samsung, etc.

Gli ingredienti ci sono tutti: in primo luogo da settembre 2010 al timone (sarebbe meglio dire alla slitta) del gigante finlandese c’e’ proprio un enfant prodige Microsoft, Stephen Elop, che per la prima volta ha spodestato un finlandese dal gradino più alto dell’azienda; in secondo luogo è ormai noto che Symbian e MeeGo (rispettivamente i sistemi operativi mobili per la fascia medio-bassa e alta del mercato), anche se su piani diversi, stanno arrancando per obsolescenza tecnologica (Symbian) e per la difficoltà di imporsi in un mercato dove l’Androide, la Mela e il Lampone oramai la fanno da padroni (con conseguente calo continuo dei profitti)

Ma se Esp00 piange, Redmond non ride: dall’altra parte dell’Oceano la situazione non è molto diversa. Sebbene l’ultimo nato di casa Windows sia un prodotto dignitoso, stenta comunque a diffondersi a causa del ritardo nel lancio e di alcune mancanze di gioventù (e di time-to-market) difficilmente perdonabili.

In questo senso si spiega dunque la strategia, applicabile ad entrambi i coniugi di questo matrimonio d’interesse, di appoggiare la sinergia su un ecosistema già esistente di terminali e servizi.

Con tutta probabilità il matrimonio porterà in dote ai Finlandesi Windows Phone 7 ed agli americani la possibilità di poter sfruttare la diffusione (ed il valore del brand) del principale produttore mondiale di terminali per numero di diffusione. Tutte rose e fiori quindi? Per niente affatto: sul piatto delle leggi di mercato dovrà essere lasciata almeno una vittima illustre. Tre sistemi operativi sono troppi per Nokia, per cui lo storico Symbian dovrà rassegnarsi a un mesto prepensionamento, oppure MeeGo non vedrà mai la maturità, interrompendo la propria carriera incompiuta nel bel mezzo di una stentata adolescenza.

Certo mi viene da storcere il naso al pensiero, ma oramai ho abbandonato Symbian senza troppi rimpianti, se non la romantica nostalgia di un sistema operativo che ha accompagnato la mia crescita professionale oramai da quasi 10 anni. Se invece guardo alla questione da una prospettiva più ampia, due sono le considerazioni che sorgono spontanee: una su un piano strettamente legato al mondo mobile ed una, più generale, relativa alla cultura manageriale:

  1. Relativamente al mondo mobile ho la sensazione che direttamente o indirettamente in questo matrimonio entrerà anche Intel: è vero che il colosso di Santa Clara ha storto il naso (con malcelata altezzosità) al fatto che Microsoft abbia pericolosamente strizzato l’occhio ad ARM, ma è altrettanto vero che Intel sta sviluppando MeeGo congiuntamente con Nokia e sta contemporaneamente investendo (anche) in tecnologie di sicurezza mobile con l’acquisizione di McAfee. Vedo quindi difficile una strategia mobile autarchica in un mercato che sembra ormai lasciare poco spazio agli outsider anche se dotati della potenza di fuoco di Santa Clara;
  2. Più in generale la mossa di Stephen Elop appare molto azzardata ma ribadisce un concetto: in un mercato globale  e aggressivo il manager rompe le regole e gli equilibri. Non è un caso che lo stesso Elop stia, proprio in questi giorni, avviando una operazione di “mietitura” (di teste) all’interno dei papaveri Nokia responsabili dell’eccessiva inerzia dell’azienda. In maniera superficialmente banale, non ho potuto fare a meno di accostare la temerarietà (e mi auguro la vision) del CEO Nokia a quanto sta accadendo in questi giorni alla prima (e quasi unica) fabbrica nazionale di automobili, anche lei nel bel mezzo di un matrimonio d’interesse con un partner d’Oltreoceano che sta sconvolgendo i piani di una economia tradizionale.

Un’altro colosso sul piede di guerra nell’affollatissimo mercato mobile. Vedremo se il matrimonio snaturerà l’immagine di Nokia oppure l’azzardata scommessa di Elop darà i suoi frutti, restituendo lo smalto (e le quote di mercato) ad una nobile azienda che appare indirizzata verso la via del declino.

ioPrego…

January 11, 2011 Leave a comment

…che il Made in Italy usi ben altri mezzi per rispolverare la sua forza nella dura sfida del mercato globale.

Una volta il Belpaese era famoso per la sua creatività, oggi il rosario elettronico ioPrego, improbabile frutto del Made In Italy, ha vinto il primo premio come migliore “Crapgadget” (vi risparmio la traduzione del termine composto dalle parole anglosassioni crap + gadget) presentato al CES 2011. La mai troppo invidiata onorificenza è stata assegnato da Engadget, bibbia dei geek, all’interno della sua classifica Best Of CES 2011. Per valutare a pieno la portata di questo (poco) ambito riconoscimento vi invito a contemplare i vincitori delle altre categorie.

Intanto il mondo hi-tech va a ben altra velocità ma in compenso il Belpaese si consola con il fatto che i telefoni LG Optimus 2X avranno le suonerie di Ennio Morricone (con cui LG fa soldi a Palate). Mentre l’Italia produce Rosari Elettronici, la Corea sforna il primo terminale mobile con processore dual core: rispetto ai gadget tecnologici prodotti dal Belapaese è veramente tutta un’altra musica (anche senza le stupende composizioni di Morricone).

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