It's not the kind of question that gets debated by industry analysts or discussed at tech conferences, but it's worth putting it out there: Has the app economy finally come up against its Lars Von Trier? Graham Bower may be his heir apparent, at least in the mobile developer space.
It takes a certain kind of guts, given the market dominance of Apple and Google, to not only create a new mobile device and platform but an entirely new app store, but the makers of the Blackphone think they have found an important, overlooked niche: consumers who put a premium on the privacy of their personal data.
Though not formally recognized as a category on major app stores, Secret and Whisper are among the most talked-about anonymity apps. However, many other apps have been launched and more are likely to come--and their motivations are not all the same.
Developers on Twitter said the government's suggestion of a mobile app code of conduct lacks credibility given the recent NSA scandal over the secret surveillance of American citizens. For months, the NTIA has been holding stakeholder briefings about the need for greater transparency around how mobile apps collect, store and manage consumer information. The code of conduct was released late last month. Of course, those at all involved in online privacy were happy with the news.
If developers had any lingering doubts about the need for improved mobile app transparency, research from the Mobile Entertainment Forum proves how far the industry has to go in establishing trust around how their personal privacy is handled by apps. The MEF worked with AVG Technologies and On Device Group to conduct Global Privacy Survey 2013, which gathered responses from more than 9,500 people across 10 countries.
Let's be honest for a moment: When was the last time you, or anyone you know, took the time during the installation of a software program to read all the way through the user license agreement before clicking on the "I agree" button? And on a smartphone screen? If the answer was "recently," Joe Santilli would like to meet you.
Let's begin with some applause. The California Attorney General's office has taken the first step by issuing recommendations for developers, mobile platform providers and carriers to address potential privacy issues head-on, before they get legislation forced upon them. The document that the AG's office published, Privacy on the Go, is less than two dozen pages and is written with surprising clarity.
If Americans have concerns about the personal information they are being asked to share, they will either uninstall a mobile app or not download it in the first place, according to an ongoing research project about online behavior.