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Apple’s rejection of UDIDs will drive adoption of alternatives

by Avivah Litan  |  March 26, 2012  |  1 Comment

Apple’s rejection of applications that access the iPhone or iPad unique identification number, UDID, will only drive adoption of alternative measures. There are plenty around – not that they are as strong and absolute as the UDID, but they are, in many circumstances, ‘almost as good.’

These identifiers include other hardware IDs like the MAC address or even more appealing, ‘clientless’ device identification now pervasive in the desktop and laptop world, and used extensively in fraud detection. Also known as ‘PC fingerprinting’, an application on the server grabs whatever it can in terms of unique characteristics from the device accessing the server without loading anything on that device.

Far from perfect, fingerprinting a device has worked very well in the desktop/laptop world and should evolve to the same state in the mobile world over time. It has been effective in catching fraudsters since the bad guys can’t delete endpoint tags such as cookies in this scenario.

From a privacy protection standpoint, the Apple policy should go further to preclude all the workarounds. Otherwise, you have to wonder what their bottom line motivation and thinking is.


Avivah Litan
VP Distinguished Analyst
12 years at Gartner
30 years IT industry

Avivah Litan is a Vice President and Distinguished Analyst in Gartner Research. Her area of expertise includes financial fraud, authentication, access management, identity proofing, identity theft, fraud detection and prevention applications…Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Apple’s rejection of UDIDs will drive adoption of alternatives

  1. […] recently read two interesting posts on this subject — one from GigaOM and another from Gartner’s Avivah Litan. Both posts talk about Apple’s recent rejections of apps using the UDID (unique identification […]

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