Mobile Turnover

Paul Miller (Director for Mobile and Wireless at Symantec) revealed that according to a Symantec survey, the typical mobile user changes mobile device on average every 17 months. I’m assuming this is a US figure. He revealed the information at the afternoon session of the Mobile Web Americas conference, shortly after I delivered a presentation of my own. Interestingly, Paul also revealed that Symantec had introduced central purchasing for employee mobile devices, presumably so that they could ensure the right level of mobile security. While possibly necessary, it was quite obviously an unpopular idea. People treat their phones very personally. It would be like your boss telling you what kind of wallet to carry, what kind of car to drive and what food to feed your kids.

I asked him if the trend towards standardisation of execution environments on mobile devices (e.g. Ajax) would increase the threat from mobile viri as they would now have a consistent vector. He didn’t think so, feeling that the fact that mobile devices are not always connected to the network will protect them. Until next year (2008), he believes, when regular connectivity will increasingly be the norm, and viri will appear in increasing numbers.

Another interesting fact: if you watch a temporal map of a computer virus outbreak on the Internet, you will see that it spreads in concentric circles (from the point of view of the network). However, an outbreak of a mobile virus behaves more like an organic virus, popping up in various places apparently unconnected. Paul puts this down to zones of connectivity, such as at airports.

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