Feeds

Qualcomm buys into Phorm-alike firm

Data gathering on the hoof

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

The ad-fatigued may groan at the news that Qualcomm has splashed out $32m on data-gathering outfit Xiam. The Irish company specialises in analysing the habits of mobile phone users in order to target advertising at them, and has customers including Orange UK.

Targeted advertising is all the rage these days, but the ways in which the necessary data is gathered is still the subject of hot debate. Xiam makes great play of its ability to profile users just by watching what they do without requiring configuration, and Orange UK apparently "supplies Xiam with data including billing information, mobile browsing logs and purchase history".

Orange assured us that the "browsing logs" only refers to on-portal usage (within Orange World), and "billing information" relates to purchases made from the operator. However, Portal Relevance Manager Jim Small is quoted as saying that 2008 will be the year when the service is "rolled out fully into all download content areas and beyond into browsing content in third-party off portal services".

We asked Orange if it was serious about this, but met with silence. Xiam has the technology to do it, but is understandably coy about what information its customers are using to profile subscribers, as it is the network operator's decision what to collect.

The Xiam system does, theoretically, keep the identity of the subscriber anonymous. Its servers simply profile the numbered individual and serve adverts when requested - it has no way of knowing who that individual is, only gleaning info as to their hobbies and interests.

No one seriously objects to their progress through a specific site being monitored, and users expect Google and their ilk to be targeting advertisements. But if an ISP, mobile or fixed, starts intercepting connections to other services for profiling purposes, then users have a right to call foul.

Qualcomm intends to integrate the Xiam technology into its platforms, as well as continuing to offer the stand-alone product, giving its customers the potential to profile mobile users in the same way that BT intends to use Phorm to work out what their fixed-broadband customers are doing.

Xiam can be used to monitor only on-portal behaviour, and that's presumably what Qualcomm initially intends (the company hasn't commented to us as yet). Still, it will be interesting to see if any mobile operator is prepared to risk the wrath of its customers and follow BT down the dark all-activity-profiling alley. ®

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.