Security vs. Function

Over the weekend I learned about a new product called Aro that Robert Scoble says is one of the most innovative things he has seen done for mobile phones. In a video that Scoble recorded with Aro’s CEO and CTO you will see a demonstration of the product, which links information together in interesting ways. I think it is actually pretty hard to explain in words what Aro does, so I suggest watching the video below.

As I was watching the video it occurred to me that I may be interested in Aro. I’ve lately been working with a mind mapping product called Personal Brain that has me realizing how much I like to link information together. For example, I would love it if there was a way to link a person’s name I enter in Personal Brain to their contact information in Outlook so that I could click their name and the contact card would load. For my use case to work Personal Brain and Outlook would need to communicate with each other, and that can be done but it requires APIs to be available that allow communication with external apps.

Aro is solving the problem I describe by having their servers sift through all of your data to build relationships and by providing their own suite of apps that work with their servers. The solution appears to be very powerful, but it requires that all of your data be made available to Aro’s servers. The question I ask myself is, am I willing to provide this company with access to my data to provide this functionality? I honestly don’t know the answer to the question for this product, but I do realize that today I provide companies like Google and Amazon with much more information than I would have been comfortable with five years ago because of the convenience and capabilities they provide.

To me it comes down to a question of whether I trust a company to do the right things to secure my information and is what I am getting back worth the risk that the company may not do all the right things? As more developers like Aro work to provide more capabilities for mobile phones we will be faced with answering this question more and more.