HP’s BYOD dilemma, Google’s weak keys, and Apple’s PR mastery


A number of recent events have attracted my attention. Maybe they will interest you too.

First, an HP executive made an interesting comment in an interview about BYOD when he said that HP wouldn’t introduce a bring-your-own-device to work anytime soon. The real meat was when he said “Why? It would be embarrassing – more importantly it would be embarrassing for our employees. Employees have to be proud of our products.” To put this remark into context, the guy who was being interviewed was Eric Cador, Senior VP of HP’s PC and Printers division in EMEA. Eric’s mission is to sell lots of HP PCs and printers and allowing HP employees to bring competing devices to work would probably not help the message he’s trying to transmit to customers.

The problem is that Eric doesn’t work for HP IT and probably doesn’t understand what’s happening to facilitate user choice to make people more productive. When Apple introduced the original iPhone in 2007, it didn’t take long for iPhones to begin popping up on the HP network. I remember a conversation with the HP team who do an excellent job of running the HP Exchange organization, who reported that they had considered blocking iPhone devices connecting to Exchange via ActiveSync until they had reviewed the IIS logs to discover that roughly a hundred of the users who had connected via iPhone were Vice Presidents or higher. The discovery terminated the discussion abruptly. I doubt that HP has blocked iPhones and iPads in the interim and seeing that HP doesn’t currently manufacture a competing product to either the iPhone or iPad, the fine people in HP IT might continue on their path. Of course, if the HP Envy X2 or similar Windows 8 tablets take off, then they might want to block iPad, but I’ve got to believe that there are still a ton of senior HP personnel using iPhones… and who wants to tell them that they’ve got to drop their beloved Apple and use a Windows Phone instead?

Next, the interesting story about how a mathematician who received some job spam from a Google recruiter discovered that Google protected its email with a relatively weak 512-bit key. Not many people would have noticed this fact and fewer would have swung into action to break the key using Amazon Web Services and then prove this to Google by sending email that purported to come from Sergey Brin. This caused the nice people in Mountain View to sit up and take notice with the result that the DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) key published in DNS for Google was suddenly increased to 2,048 bits, taking it out of the realm of practical breaking given the resources available to non-government agencies. All of this goes to prove that even those who run some of the largest email systems in the world can get things wrong some of the time. I’m sure it was simply the result of overlooking that the DKIM key needed to be strengthened and I’m equally sure that a similar situation exists in many other large companies.

Finally, Apple ran out of luck in the UK Courts as their appeal to avoid having to post a notice on their web site to inform consumers that Samsung’s Galaxy tablet had not infringed Apple’s patents for the iPad. I admire a judge who assessed of the iPad: “It is a cool design”. I also admire the way that Apple turned disadvantage into advantage by using the court-forced statement to inform consumers of the strength of the iPad’s design and the fact that Samsung had been found by a German court to have copied the iPad in a case involving the same patent. The joy of words when issued by master marketeers.

Follow Tony @12Knocksinna

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About Tony Redmond

Exchange MVP, author, and rugby referee
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