Turning back the clock a few years to the first mobile conference I ever attended (WES 2007), one of the first people I met at the show who welcomed me with open arms was Rob Kao. Over the years we've kept up with Rob through his various endeavors in the BlackBerry space, including the launch of SmrtGuard, which was a big hit with the CrackBerry community. With CES 2012 in full swing, I caught up with Rob who brought us up to speed with the status of where things are at. As it turns out, SmrtGuard has actually been sold and is now Snap Secure. Keep reading for the full Q&A!
Interview with Rob Kao
Q: What is your connection with the BlackBerry community?
RK: I've been using and developing for BlackBerry since 2003. My first BlackBerry was the 6210 "BlueBerry". Wow, I feel...dated. About a year after I started developing for BlackBerry, my co-author and I wrote the first edition of BlackBerry for Dummies (Wiley). Originally we had intended to write a BB development book, which we finally got to write in 2011 - Beginning BlackBerry 7 Development (Apress).
Q: CrackBerry Nation has seen your SmrtGuard product from beta until now, can you tell us about how it became Snap Secure?
RK: It has been a journey and great experience. My team and I have met so many enthusiastic users via the CrackBerry Nation during the beta period that gave us good feedback on the product. Since our official launch on CB back in 2009, it has been a roller coaster meeting various strategic partners. In 2011, we met and engaged with Exclaim Mobility (the acquirer) because it was a good choice for us. After the acquisition in late October of 2011, we rebranded SmrtGuard to Snap Secure.
Q: What is your perspective on Mobile Security and why it is so important to BlackBerry and mobile users right now?
RK: When people think about security (desktop or mobile), most immediately think about firewall and anti-malware. While I believe those items are very important parts, mobile security needs a broader scope (compared with desktop security). When users are walking around with a BlackBerry, it is on and can receive/send data and calls. Due to the nature of mobile devices and how people use them, mobile security needs to protect the user and the phone itself. Just "scan the phone" for malware isn't good enough. That is why we were so focused on creating a product like Snap Secure.
Q: Can you give examples?
RK: Sure. Snap Secure starts by backing up users' data, like SMS, contacts, phone logs, email (and more) in case users drops or damages their phone, is transitioning to a new device (or needs cross-platform data migration). In addition to remote locate and wipe we also provide one-push panic button that can trigger an outgoing call, twitter, SMS, and email message with your location information in case of a physical emergency. Furthermore, we also provide call blocking so users don't have to be bothered by unwanted calls. Again, what we are trying to do is to provide a comprehensive mobile security services for our users instead of just trying to scan people's phone (which we do as well).
Q: What about BlackBerry Protect? Why should people use Snap Secure (SmrtGuard) when they can get BlackBerry Protect for free?
RK: We believe BlackBerry Protect is a vanilla solution. What we offer is a comprehensive protection service for users and their Blackberry. Let's take locate as an example. Both BlackBerry Protect and Snap Secure can locate user's BlackBerry. However, Snap Secure offers live tracking with location history (bread-crumbs), where BB Protect offers one time tracking that you have to keep refreshing or relogin to the Protect website. Both Protect and Snap Secure back up user's data, but with Snap Secure you can see your data and export it at any time. Also, if you are migrating from another smartphone platform to BlackBerry, Snap Secure can migrate data for you. Can't do that with Protect. Not to mention we offer various other features that Protect does not.
Q: So, what can we expect from Snap Secure going forward?
RK: We are committed to keep providing comprehensive protection service for mobile users, so you will see new features, design updates and services from us in 2012.
Thanks for the time, Rob. Best of luck with Snap Secure!