Software Monetization Featured Article

'Mobile Is Eating the World' and for Software Monetization That's a Good Thing

June 18, 2015

A recent blog by Philip Zhu, Product Manager at Gemalto (formerly SafeNet (News - Alert)) intrigued me when I read the title “Mobile is Eating the World.” Of course as a software monetization subject matter expert, I wondered, is that a good or a bad thing?

The short answer is it’s a good thing and the reasons are compelling for ISVs.

Zhu states that recently the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz proclaimed that “Mobile is Eating the World”. Indeed, demand for mobile software as anyone with a smartphone can attest, is at an all-time high.  In fact, 80 percent of smartphones and 60 percent of tablets worldwide run on Android (News - Alert) today. This should be a good enough reason for ISVs to adopt Android for mobile software development. Quoting the infamous bank robber, Willy Sutton, “I robbed banks because that’s where the money is!” 

So why have ISVs been slow to jump on the Android bandwagon? As Zhu says in his blog, the risk of compromising intellectual property and potentially opening the door to theft, reverse engineering and unauthorized usage is the major reason.

Zhu goes on to explain, that  IP protection and security can be achieved on Android platform applications  despite  the frequent news reports that hackers prefer Android as a target of opportunity over iOS precisely because of its market share and openness. While many ISVs choose to secure their IP themselves, using the free code obfuscation tools in Android NDK and Native C but often that is not enough.

Most ISVs are looking for a way to protect their software and their IP but also to find ways to respond to market needs, product innovation and stay one step ahead of their competition.  This calls for a software monetization solution that can handle the dual goals for Android – IP protection and business optimization.  

In fact, when it comes to IP protection, you would be hard pressed to find a more secure solution than the company’s Sentinel envelope product. Part of their software monetization suite, Sentinel envelope encrypts selected Java code, as well as the entire DEX file, safeguarding ISV APK from reverse engineering and other anti-debugging measures offering the most advanced protection and security available today.

Expanding more on the security point ZHU adds, “Because each ISV’s library will be obfuscated and encrypted separately, hackers will not be able to devise a common crack method. Sensitive data such as configuration files are also encrypted and licensed separately, so only protected APKs with a valid license can decrypt and open them. This level of protection is recommended for a number of industries, for example eLearning, which often requires video content encryption.” It is also noted that because many Android devices do not have standard USB ports, Gemalto’s (News - Alert) approach to Android protection with cross-locking a machine’s fingerprint with its unique deice ID provides the most enhanced security available in the market today.    

Zhu adds that the other area where ISVs can get tremendous value is in implementing a software monetization solution with the ability to collect usage data on their products and with that data enable them to make actionable business decisions that result in increased revenue and improved profitability. By providing visibility of software usage regardless of where the user is, what device they are using and how the software is delivered- on premise or on the cloud- provides critical information that an ISV can use to improve their products, introduce new products and fine-tune pricing models. This can be a very valuable tool for Product Management planning. The end results in product leadership and greater customer intimacy.

Zhu also talks about another software monetization scenario that can benefit ISV’s.  He says that as the world moves toward a user-centric model and away from device-centric licensing, end users expect portability across multiple devices via the cloud and want access to the software anytime they want to work.  ISVs can leverage critical usage data collected and offer new business models tailored to specific customer requirement, such as a pay-per-usage model. Zhu adds that once the Sentinel product is implemented for software security and licensing then without additional engineering effort or investment, different versions, different models, and entitlements can be managed without the need of additional engineering effort or investment, further enhancing Product Management’s ability to respond fast to market changes. Gemalto’s design philosophy of ‘protect once, deliver many’ allows ISVs to differentiate and package their products according to market needs while offering the most secure protection of the code and their IP.  There is no need to compromise on either software monetization or security or on Android mobile support. Lastly, there is little doubt that, while mobile may be eating the world, there is no reason why ISVs should fear taking a big bite. This is an opportunity to embrace and not fear. Indeed there is a solution that exists for software monetization and that can eliminate any risks of IP exposure. After reading Zhu’s blog, it is clear that there is little risk for ISV’s other than missed opportunities and being last to market. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino
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