— ッ MEDIOLANA® EDU (@Mediolana) October 4, 2014
Following the dictum of Swedish authors Jonas Ridderstråle and Kjell A. Nordström – that we watch television to figure ourselves out – our Creative Director & CSO recently found himself on a front room floor next to a vintage Toshiba set approaching midnight. Cereal bowl in hand, he had been viewing a 24-hour news network long enough for the same items to be entering their third cycle, but he was transfixed by news of the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, a competition that – like so much coming out of Asia over the past few decades – resembles the future for the entire planet.
The 2014 Asian Games – the seventeenth edition of the competition since its inception after the Second World War – tells us much about where Asia is heading. The television and Internet presentation is iconic and aesthetically pleasing. The facilities and infrastructure are first-class. Even second-tier cities in countries such as South Korea now boast glittering metro systems.
But when it comes to actual athletic and organisational standards, many Asian countries are still punching vastly below their weight. Look away from the top of the medal table – which is predictably occupied by the A3 states of China, Japan and Korea Republic – and the medal count of nations such as India, Indonesia and Pakistan starts to look distinctly worrying. In a ‘flat’ and arguably increasingly heterarchical world, it is increasingly difficult for naturally wealthy countries with populations in the hundreds of millions to justify the unnecessarily inefficacious state of their societies.
The twenty-first century may already be the Asian Century. However, if the continent as a whole is serious about competing with Europe on a sporting level, much remains to be done. The immediate challenge is for 2018 Asian Games hosts Indonesia to put on a decent performance when the show rolls in to Jakarta in four years’ time; while medal tallies can be misleading, drastic underachievement remains a warning signal to the world that all is not right.
One of the more interesting stories that we at Mediolana have been poring over in recent days has been the revelation that the iPhone 6 – a device which has so far made headlines mostly for its purportedly malleable case – is causing concern at the highest level of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (‘FBI’). This is because the ninth iteration of Apple’s iconic mobile handset is also its most secure: the phone’s encryption of emails, photographs and contacts is so comprehensive that Apple will not be able to hand over anything particularly substantive to a law enforcement or intelligence agency in the event of an investigation.
Whether Apple’s claims about the impracticability of trying to crack the iPhone 6’s encryption prove to be correct or not, James B. Comey – a distinguished alumnus of the University of Chicago’s law school and the director of the FBI – is clearly concerned enough to be making pronouncements about the dangers of companies manufacturing and marketing electronic devices that ‘allow people to hold themselves above the law’. Comey may have a point, but after some consideration, we believe that there are at least three even more salient issues that have arisen from this perhaps unexpected iPhone 6 USP:
- The Value of Privacy. The iPhone 6 signals that there is an economic value to privacy: consumers will be willing to pay more (or at least allocate their disposable income in a different way) on the basis of whether their data will remain just that. Moreover, in large markets whose jurisdictions are wary of US espionage – think Angela Merkel – the ability of American companies to do business in those countries may depend on their meeting certain encryption standards.
- Competing on Security. Google has already announced that the forthcoming version of its own mobile operating system, Android, will have encryption as the default setting. With companies seeking to outdo each other on the impenetrability of their offerings, the conflict between the requirements of consumers and the level of access desired by national or international agencies is likely to intensify in the future.
- Trust. With ever-more private and sensitive data being stored on mobile devices, perceived breaches of trust could have significant economic consequences – as well as impacting brand equity. In the notoriously volatile smart devices market, today’s ubiquitous phone is tomorrow’s museum piece – and security may be a key determinant of which manufacturer is next to end up in the bankruptcy courts.