Thursday, May 27, 2010

Value-Added Consumer PC Feature: Encryption

I've written before with a few ideas about how manufacturers of consumer PCs could create differentiation and better margins by some value-added features, such as built-in RAID (automated backup). Here's another idea: built-in hard-drive encryption.

Corporations have been encrypting hard drives routinely for at least 5 years, and for good reason. It is admittedly much less imperative for consumer PCs, but still a good idea.

I think I know one reason why PC manufacturers would be leery of shipping consumer PCs with disk encryption turned on--it really works. They are rightly afraid that consumers will forget their passphrase, and will be very unhappy when they can't get their data back. But there lies part of the value-added relationship opportunity--key escrow.

The hardware manufacturer would provide a key escrow service for the consumer. That way, the consumer would be protected from forgetting their passphrase. And the PC manufacturer would not only have a value-added product--they would also have an opportunity for a small annual fee, and an ongoing relationship with the consumer.

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