Time to take a few minutes in this second day of 2013 to wish you a Happy New Year!
… and share with you a few details about the job I took a few months ago. It’s been a very busy ramp-up since October 15, with a lot of ground covered, and I hope this synthesis will answer the questions you may have.
How do you improve the mobile experience when all you have is a visibility over a carrier’s network?
That is the question that started carrier IQ (CiQ) in 2005. They set out to open up a window on the devices. To show what was happening inside what was until then a closed ‘black box’ after it left the factory.
Seven years later, the company now has a tremendous technology foundation, from a unique agent software which gathers system data on smartphones (180 million rolled out so far), to an incredible analytics big data platform that’s able to deliver real-time drill-down information on technical parameters of a phone as well as trends and statistics. Last ime I checked CiQ was processing over 7 terabytes of smartphone system data each month…
They have a great business team, too, and managed to develop solid relationships with major mobile carriers in the US and abroad. And weathered an incredible storm in late 2011 — more on this at the bottom of this post.
“Mobile Intelligence”: a window on what’s going on inside your phone
Using information gathered in four technical domains: voice communications, data communications, system and battery, and applications, the CiQ platform helps mobile operators improve customer care, optimize network coverage and operations, and better understand their users base. All for the benefit of us, subscribers.
The information that is gathered (with customer consent, through the carrier’s interfaces and policies) is about things such as calls start time and and end time; dropped calls contexts; battery life and discharge rate; text messages sent / received stamps; applications launch and close, the memory they use; and so on.
CiQ lives on ROI, not user content or user behavior monetization
Nothing CiQ gathers for their clients is about user content. There is no monetization of user content. Instead, CiQ is making money helping carriers provide a better experience.
For instance, if you complain to your carrier about too many dropped calls, using CiQ they can better diagnose the problem and often help you fix it without you having to go through the pain of exchanging your phone — which more often than not resolves the problem only for a few days. This in turn represents cost savings for them, as they can avoid shipping a new handset for instance, or worse, seeing you churn over to their competitor. That same information is also used by carriers in their dealings with device vendors, whose bugs can now be better exposed — and therefore corrected. The whole chain, from manufacturers to the subscribers, benefits from the visibility CiQ provides over the devices’ internal issues.
A word on that 2011 bad rap…
Some of you might have heard about CiQ “spying” on mobile users last year — and a Google search will still bring up a lot of that noise.
Well, believe me, after my extensive due diligence, I can confirm to you that this was untrue. A mistake made in good faith by a junior ‘hacker’ who since then has recognized his error.
The witch hunt that followed, complete with lawsuits, the EFF jumping in, and more bad PR that any company could which for in an entire lifespan, was homeric. But the team and the business survived. More on this (and lots of details about what the company does — and has always been doing) can be found here.
(on a side note… I still can’t get my head around the process that has got some people to write misleading things such as
“…Have you heard that every text message, every e-mail, every phone number, every keystroke made on a Google Android phone may be secretly recorded, logged and sent to your cellular provider by a tracking service called Carrier IQ?”
Duh. Does the author (Philip Elmer-DeWitt, article here) understands that “every text message, every e-mail, every phone number” is TRANSPORTED by every carrier and therefore is entirely recorded and logged on their servers? Without CiQ needed? Again, CiQ is about system data, not user content, which is readily available on the carriers’ networks from the moment you hit send or call…)
2013 and beyond: a killer opportunity for Carrier IQ
Tier-1 clients, hundreds of millions of devices installed… the sky is the limit. We are entering an age where mobile phones are an integral part of our daily lives and we, subscribers, are expecting the best level of service from the wireless industry. Mobile carriers worldwide are competing for best customer service, best coverage, and best customer experience management — the new mobile industry buzzword. They are for most of us the main contact point, our lifeline to a great service. They need the best technology to continue to satisfy our ever-increasing demands for quality experiences on our smartphones.
At the same time, some device manufacturers are building a stronger connection with us, the mobile users. Starting with Apple, who pioneered it with the iPhone, other brands are starting to market themselves more aggressively as frontal brands. If confirmed, the trend to drop carrier subsidies and recently embraced by T-Mobile a few weeks ago should only push devices manufacturers to manage customer experience even more directly.
Apple has been doing this since 2009, integrating CiQ software in all iOS versions for the benefit of the iPhone user experience (update: technically, until 2011; they are now said to be using a derivative technology).
The mobile ecosystem is going to become more complex, but the need for managing to the best possible customer experience will remain stronger than ever. This is the opportunity I see with CiQ. Enabling the best mobile customer experience across the whole industry.
The challenges are many but the foundation is solid. What more to ask for?Pin It