Feeds

Why Yahoo!'s Stalker 2.0 service is a turn-off

Mobile creepware

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

While Yahoo! presses on with OneConnect, its creepy "Mobile Web 2.0" service, wiser heads in the mobile industry make a strong case why it's doomed to fail.

When OneConnect was launched at Mobile World Congress a fortnight ago, I described it as the best thing to happen to stalkers since the invention of the dirty raincoat. OneConnect lets you see who in your Yahoo! address book is near you and where.

"OK, they pay that chump how much to come up with losing ideas?" asks Reg reader Brian Saloum. "Where do I sign up for that kind of a job?"

"I'm going to go with the smart money and agree with you, this is going to be fairly to somewhat highly amusing to see this one implode. But it will be interesting to see how they try to cram this impending failure under the rug."

Another mobile industry insider lists a catalog of failures before offering the damning conclusion:

"The web boys don't get the mobile web at all - they think it's the Internet on a small screen. No guys, it just looks like that."

But the most interesting perspective comes from Mark Curtis, the CEO of a successful dating service, Flirtomatic. Three years ago, Mark published a sobering look at mobile technology Distraction, which now looks quite prophetic.

Flirtomatic has a thriving mobile element, but Mark points out that location-based real-time data was a turn-off

"Anything that tells you someone is closer than five metres feels intrusive," he says.

Moreover, location-based metadata has been one of the industry's red herrings.

"Over the past three years lots of people have said that the great thing is precise location-based stuff. Where you say, for example, "I'm in a bar in Soho and you can make contact with me'."

"But as soon as you run the numbers, it exposes it as a whole load of twaddle. Even with a lot of users signed up, say a million, the chances of meeting someone who matches your profile, with their phone turned on, in the same place as you, are negligable. It's not going to happen."

Yahoo!'s OneConnect looks like technology looking for a solution. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should.

There are instances where you can envisage selective "groups" might find it useful to locate each other - but these are limited. Says Curtis -

"I can see being able to track where my children are as being useful, but in most cases, that's not going to happen. My 17 year-old would rather have her hair cut off than allow me to track where she is. "

Flirtomatic makes location information opt-in and selective: 40 per cent of users have signed up giving the first two letters of their postcode. But so far, Mark's bet that "people don't want to know" looks like a good one.

So perhaps Creepware services like OneConnect have a useful side - they remind us how valuable our privacy and autonomy really is.

In the interests of fairness, we've invited Yahoo! to explain why the service isn't creepy - but they haven't followed up. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
What FTC lawsuit? T-Mobile US touts 10GB, $100 family-of-4 plan
Folks 'could use that money for more important things' says CEO Legere
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.