Tuesday, May 14, 2013

3LM- what could have been

This posting may be a little different from what you might expect on a security blog.  One subject I've loved is history.  This means that often times I am interested in the history or development of technology or ideas in other areas I am involved in.  So this posting will take a look at the history and what could have been with one company.

3LM, 3 Laws Mobility, is (or I guess now was) a small firm involved in the overall Android MDM marketplace.  The name, an alusion to Asimov's "Three Laws of Robots", stood for the guiding principles of the company:

  • Protect your user. A mobile device may not harm its user or, through inaction, allow its user to come to harm though malicious code or content.
  • Protect yourself. A mobile device must protect itself and the integrity of its data and secured communications.
  • Obey. A mobile device must let the user use the device freely, as long as such usage does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

  • The company's product was not something that was sold to the end users or to enterprises.  It made changes to the Android OS, and so would be something the device manufactorers would encorporate into their builds of Android on their devices.  This would extend and enhance Android, making it easier to be managed by other products.

    Frankly, stuff that probably should have been in Android in the first place.

    Not surprising, when you understand that 3LM was formed by former Google employees!  I guess they wanted to extend Android in this way, but management at Google, more interested in creating a mass consumer device then in something that could ALSO appeal to corporate interests, wasn't interested.  (3LM was founded by Tom Moss and Gaurav Mathur in 2010)

    The firm was later bought out by Motorola Mobility (in early 2011), but run as an independent entity, selling their product to the device manufactors.  Per their website, they had Motorola Mobility, HTC, Sony/Ericsson, Sharp, and Pantech.  I guess Samsung with their Knox product wasn't interested.

    Of course, Motorola Mobility was bought by Google.  So what happened with 3LM?  I think some thought that maybe Google would wise up and incorporate 3LM technology into the Android OS, where is should have been in the first place.  Not so.

    Sadly, while their website is still up, it seems from articles that the principles at 3LM have moved on to other companies, and that Google has pretty much turned over the 3LM technology to MDM vendor Boxtone this past April.  At least they didn't kill off the technology.

    Kind of sad, actually.

    Other articles:

    Network World on Google killing off 3LM

    3LM Architecture

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