AT&T May Have to Eat Verizon’s Dust in 2012

Lately, I have been asked by reporters to compare AT&T and Verizon and predict what 2012 will look like for them and their competitors. At this point, all I can say is it’s happy holidays at Verizon, but not so much at AT&T. What a difference a year makes.

These two companies led the changes in the wireless industry over the last decade. They looked similar, grew rapidly, and have shared the No. 1 and 2 positions. However, something new is starting to happen. These companies could soon be on different tracks.

A year ago, AT&T Mobility was the only U.S. carrier to offer Apple’s iPhone. Today, there are four. Almost a year ago, AT&T announced its intention to acquire T-Mobile and grab wireless spectrum. Now that deal is dead. Everything has completely flip-flopped.

So what is next?

It’s all about spectrum and innovation. These are the two keys to long-term success — and not just for AT&T and Verizon, but for all the other wireless competitors as well, large and small.

Wireless Spectrum

Wireless spectrum is like the lanes on the wireless superhighway. I live in Atlanta, one of the busiest areas in the country. When the highways get clogged, traffic slows. So the city paves more lanes — expands the highway. That lets traffic flow once again — until it gets clogged once again through more growth. The government is thinking up creative ways to improve traffic flow with all sorts of ideas. Some work. Some don’t.

The same thing is happening in wireless. Think of spectrum as the lanes. When carriers sell to more customers and they use more services, they clog the lanes — use up all the spectrum capacity.

One way to improve the situation is to add more lanes. Companies can do that by acquiring other companies and their spectrum. That’s what AT&T tried to do with T-Mobile. Another way is to just acquire spectrum like Verizon did from the cable television industry.

Next is to think of new ways to squeeze more traffic onto existing highways.

In recent weeks, Verizon announced it is acquiring the spectrum of the failed cable television excursion into wireless. This is an easy way for it to get more spectrum.

After struggling for months to acquire T-Mobile, AT&T finally threw in the towel and instead announced it is acquiring the spectrum from the failed Qualcomm FLO TV. This will be a quicker and easier solution. In addition, it can share spectrum through a deal discussed with T-Mobile.

At this point in the industry maturation and development, this is the best way for these top carriers to acquire more spectrum and quickly expand their lanes on their wireless superhighways. And there is still more spectrum out there to be acquired. So expect more of these deals, not mergers.

This is also critical for every other competitor like Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, C Spire and others. The wireless world is rapidly changing. Super smartphones like Androids and iPhones are squeezing the networks dry. We must act now to protect every carrier and every customer and make this ground fertile once again.

Looking at all of this, it seems Verizon is running this race without being exhausted like AT&T is.

Wireless Innovation

The other area where Verizon seems to be moving ahead of AT&T is innovation. There are many interesting ideas starting to bubble to the surface.

One example is a Netflix-type service. Netflix is a young company that has grown very rapidly. In fact, it accounts for roughly one-third of all Internet traffic in the United States, which is incredible.

Verizon sees this as a great new opportunity, and it may be right. Expect it to start offering a service in 2012. Of course, it may end up acquiring Netflix itself.

This sounds similar to what happened 10 years ago. Remember Internet service providers like AOL, EarthLink, CompuServe and Prodigy? They led through the 1990s until the Baby Bells and cable television companies started offering high-speed connections to the Net. Now the Baby Bells and cable TV companies dominate that space.

Today these competitors, if they still exist, are much smaller than ever. They are still good quality providers, but the growing wave of opportunity passed them by. They were unable to create the next wave.

This is what we may be starting to see here. If Verizon is successful, will AT&T follow? It would love to, once it catches its balance again. However, AT&T is off balance right now, bent over and breathing hard.

This is why I think Verizon is rockin’ and rollin’, while AT&T is struggling to regain its footing.

Verizon Ahead of AT&T in 2012

So, could Verizon pull ahead of AT&T this year? Yes it could. Of course, AT&T does its best when it is under pressure. And suddenly, it is under pressure. So it may struggle and fight and come back this year.

Remember in the late 1990s when SBC tried to acquire AT&T and Reed Hundt, the chairman of the FCC, said it was “UNTHINKABLE”? Yet less than a decade later, SBC did acquire AT&T — and BellSouth and Cingular — and the race was on. The smallest Baby Bell had become the largest, seemingly overnight.

Don’t count AT&T out. A dry spell is not the end. This has happened several times in the past. However, things are rocky now, and will be for at least a while.

So what will 2012 look like for AT&T and Verizon and the other competitors with regard to spectrum shortages, industry-wide solutions to this growing problem, and innovation?

There are quite a few challenges ahead. We must come up with solutions that benefit all competitors, not just AT&T and Verizon.

Perhaps at the Consumer Electronics Show coming to Las Vegas in January, we’ll get some ideas.

Yikes! CES is coming. This should be a very exciting show, with Apple iTV and Amazon smartphones, and all the rest of whatever is coming next.

E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a tech analyst and consultant who enjoys sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry he's been watching for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com.

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Appdome CEO on Mobile App Security: No Developer, No Code, No Problem

No-code platforms are a key tool for organizations to better secure their own mobile apps.

Mobile software is frighteningly insecure, warns Tom Tovar, CEO and co-creator of Appdome. This is not a tenable situation for mobile app publishers.

The company’s no-code software removes the costly and time-consuming in-house process of building in security and fraud protection. It provides a valid alternative to development organizations hiring outside programmers.

The power of no-code lies in its ability to shift roles from professional programmers to IT workers who can build an app or website. Such tools make it possible for IT to balance convenience and speed with the cost considerations entailed with outsourcing coding projects.

No-code technology enables non-developer users from different business teams such as HR, finance, and procurement to build custom apps without having to write a single line of code. IT workers and others within an organization can build their product by dragging and dropping components and making use of existing app templates.

That scenario is where Appdome comes into play. The company’s technology can be a game-changer for mobile app developers and publishers looking for a hands-on approach to secure Android and iOS mobile apps.

Most development organizations adopting DevOps already have highly automated processes in place. The only way to secure apps without delaying the release and increasing budgets is by automating that process too.

“It is simply too complex, cumbersome, and expensive to do so manually,” Tovar said.

Pivot to No-Code

Founded in 2012 as a mobile software security firm, Tovar joined the company four years later as CEO and co-creator of the Appdome platform. The company has offices in Redwood City, Calif., and Tel-Aviv, Israel.

Appdome is the heart of the company’s mobile app security solution, noted Tovar, who nudged the company towards a no-code solution for mobile app security and fraud prevention.

“The patented Appdome no-code platform employs artificial intelligence and machine learning to build security features into a mobile app binary. This provides all kinds of protections, including man-in-the-middle prevention, data encryption, code obfuscation, jailbreak and rooting prevention, fraud prevention, and more,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Consumers Bemoan Lacking Security

Prominent on Appdome’s website is the “CISOs Meeting Consumer Expectations of Mobile App Security in 2021” report that covers responses from 10,000 mobile consumers in different countries and demographic audiences. It shows clearly that mobile consumers no long will settle for “security awareness,” assertions.

Consumers today have high expectations of security and malware prevention in every Android and iOS app. App makers who fail to comply risk churn and cancel culture in their mobile business.

Consumer expectations of mobile app security

Source: Appdome

Appdome sees its mission as protecting the mobile economy and mobile app users. The security firm does this with a no-code mobile security and fraud prevention platform. It puts the global mobile transformation and DevSecOps adoption in mobile development pipelines.

A large majority (73 percent) of all consumers would stop using a mobile app if it left them unprotected against attack, and 63 percent say security is as important or more important to them than (app) features, Tovar said of the survey’s results.

“Consumers expect that every app is to be secured equally, another major finding from the global mobile consumer survey,” he observed.

Insider’s View About Mobile Security

During our conversation I spoke further with Tovar about no-code technology, and the state of mobile app security and fraud prevention.

TechNewsWorld: How is No-code technology changing the way enterprises develop and use apps?

Tom Tovar: No-code technology is making it much easier for mobile app developers to create secure apps. Most security implementation is still a highly manual process, and skilled security specialists are in high demand and hard to recruit.

It is even more difficult in the mobile app world because iOS and Android require significantly different approaches. A large number of development frameworks from which to choose exist. It is a very complex situation.

How does that impact the development of mobile apps?

Tovar: Security implementations can dramatically slow the delivery of the mobile app. In turn, this can significantly hurt revenue in such a highly competitive space, as well as increase costs.

What are typical use cases for no-code technology in mobile app security and fraud prevention?

Tovar: There are many! Banking apps, for instance, are notoriously insecure, even though they tap into a bank’s most sensitive back-end systems and provide access to customer accounts.

Appdome CEO, Tom Tovar
Appdome CEO Tom Tovar

For example, a white-hat hacker who recently probed the security of 30 apps from a variety of large global financial institutions found that 99 percent of the mobile apps that researchers reverse-engineered contained hardcoded API keys and tokens such as usernames and passwords to third-party services.

Are banking apps an isolated example?

Tovar: No, Fintech relies heavily on mobile apps to deliver its services, and they absolutely must be secure. Health and wellness apps may not seem like they contain valuable information, but they do.

In fact, health records are far more valuable than credit cards on the black market because they contain personally identifying information useful for stealing identities and perpetrating fraud.

Why is Appdome’s software a benefit to DevOps and enterprise IT automation?

Tovar: Shift left in security — finding and preventing defects early in the software delivery process — is a key trend in 2022. Many of the CISOs and VPs of mobile engineering I talk to are looking to implement security earlier in the development cycle.

Our software automates the implementation of security and is fully compatible with the way developers build their apps today. DevOps teams can use the Appdome API to seamlessly integrate the process of building security features with existing build systems and CI/CD pipelines.

This allows DevOps teams to deliver true system-to-system reliability and scale for both their consumer as well as employee mobile apps.

What are the biggest challenges mobile app users face today, and how is Appdome addressing these issues?

Tovar: Consumers are not happy with the “buyer beware” state of mobile app security. They expect publishers to protect them. In fact, more than two-thirds (68 percent) said that publishers have an even higher duty to do so during a pandemic.

Unfortunately, unless a big breach gets big play in the press, there is really no way for consumers to differentiate between secure and insecure apps. So, they are stuck unless publishers find a way to consistently, quickly, and affordably ensure their apps are secure. Appdome provides the means to accomplish these goals.

How does Appdome’s software technology work?

Tovar: Appdome is a security build system that uses patented machine coding to build security features into Android and iOS applications. App makers do not need to make any changes to their mobile apps to build a secure version on Appdome.

The creation software requires no source code, no development experience, and no user data to operate. It also requires no modifications to the mobile applications, no SDKs (software development kits), or manual coding. As a machine, it can complete mobile application security projects with ease, usually in a few seconds.

Securing mobile apps is a simple three-step process. One, upload a mobile app binary (APK or AAB for Android, and IPA or bitcode for iOS) to the platform. Two, select the security features needed to complete the project. Three, click on the Build my App button.

Developers have the choice of using the Appdome console to do this work or build the desired security features to their mobile app using an API. They can incorporate Appdome into their existing DevOps processes with a few lines of code that will connect to our platform and secure the app.

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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