How Blackberry’s and Playstation’s Problems Will Shape Paid Content Strategies

Research In Motion, the company behind Blackberry, are watching the dust settle on one of the biggest challenges the company has faced.  The prolonged email and BBM service outage may prove to have even more dramatic impacts on their long term prospects, with confidence fatally shattered for many consumers.  Sony will have been grateful for so much of the spotlight to be shone on RIM’s troubles as they found themselves victim once again to a security breach.

Security breaches, Denial of Service attacks, service outages and other such disruptions may have diverse causes but they have two crucial things in common:

  • They disrupt the consumer experience, simultaneously  damaging consumer confidence
  • They could often have been prevented with more effective preventative measures by the companies affected

All of this may seem distant from paid content strategies, but the impacts will soon be keenly felt, particularly at the costing phase.  When services are proposed, whether by a start-up or by a division of a large corporation, budgets and costs are never as big as people wished they were.  That is just the nature of doing business and technology builds.   Business casing, revenue modelling, cost forecasting are always balancing acts and security is rarely one of the first technology investments on people’s minds when building content services.

Security for content services has traditionally played a role similar to motor insurance when buying a car: you know you are going to need to take it out, and you know that its cost will be impacted by the car you buy, but the majority of your time and energies are spent researching the car.  Insurance is the afterthought.  Though of course you still have to pay the full amount else you cannot legally drive the car.  And here is where the analogy splits: with content service builds, if you find that you have allocated more than you expected to user features or content licenses you can make up the shortfall by reducing the costs on less visible components such as security.

This is all great for consumer product experiences: we get more features, more content, more supported devices etc. But those days are now numbered.  The ROI of great product experiences disappears if you lose customers because of service disruptions.  Just ask Sony and RIM.

RIM and Sony are the pivot points

Of course many other companies than Sony and RIM have been getting hammered by DOS attacks, security breaches and outages (Soundcloud was a recent victim).  But they are the landmark events.  They are the global scale events which will become industry reference points around which future strategies will pivot.

Now CTO’s and security experts will be given a much bigger voice in the earliest stages of planning content services.  If you are a start-up expect VCs to start wanting to see security expertise on your team and robust contingency plans in your business case. If you are building a service within a larger organization expect the CTO to start calling many of the shots.

Whatever your situation, expect to start having to allocate much more of your budget on security, and because content owners are unlikely to slash their license fees to help companies pay for security investments, user functionality will be hit hardest.  The end result for consumers will be safer, but less exciting content products.  Not the most enthralling of prospects…

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