While mobile users may be naturally wary of having software report on what their cell phone is up to, there is an equally natural expectation that network quality, device performance and customer care meet the highest standards.
Carrier IQ has balanced its need for information with the users’ privacy expectation with a model that delivers information on the users’ experiences to service providers and device manufacturers. This model is based on the agreements these companies make with their customers. This can run the gamut from anonymous statistics aggregated from millions of devices that analyze dropped calls to specific configuration of a user’s device used to assist a care agent during a customer support call.
Up until now, most mobile analytics were captured by vans with monitoring equipment that roamed areas to measure local carrier signal strength or to analyze the operators’ billing information. Now, the folks at Carrier IQ are working with numerous wireless operators and mobile device makers and have embedded a small piece of monitoring software that periodically reports device performance data using a secure encrypted channel to Carrier IQ’s customers. This software is like an “E.T. phone home” process. Plus, this quality assurance data collection process is designed not to adversely affect the battery life.
Depending on the use case, Carrier IQ can collect information that reports on dropped calls (where and when, along with signal information at the time), battery life and reliability issues with the device, network performance and throughput, application usage, Web analytics, and quality of connection over time. Carrier IQ works with mobile operators, mobile device manufacturers and research companies to provide the best, true intelligence on what’s really going on inside the mobile device.
Carrier IQ: Helping Operators Deliver Better Service from Cell Phone Data
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Carrier IQ’s Mobile Service Intelligence Platform
Carrier IQ has figured out that the key to gathering performance information is to make sure that the software on the device doesn’t impact the battery or performance of the device-and that, when the data is transmitted, it is securely encrypted and stored. All of this comes with no data transmission costs to the user.
The company has created a rather sophisticated architecture and system to achieve clear and concise metrics on device performance and users’ behavior to improve the customers’ experiences. There are millions of data feeds coming into the various Carrier IQ collectors sitting in the operator’s network. The information is then transmitted to the Carrier IQ Mobile Service Intelligence Platform (MSIP) that analyzes information and presents it back to the customer via a Web interface.
Some very intriguing research is being conducted from the large, anonymous mobile phone activity databases. In an interesting Wall Street Journal article entitled, “The Really Smart Phone,” Robert Lee Hotz points out that collection of anonymous data from cell phones is providing researchers with insightful social demographics-all created out of opt-in information from cell phone subscribers. Just look at the large social impact that has recently occurred in the Middle East from cell phone data.
Information from Carrier IQ’s own customers is equally insightful-both at an aggregated level and in the support of an individual user. For example, Carrier IQ was able to demonstrate with one particular device that if Facebook were preloaded as an application, it represented 40 percent of application usage time on the device in the first month. If Facebook had to be downloaded by the user, this dropped to five percent of application usage time.
Understanding user issues such as fast battery drain is an equally compelling problem set addressed by Carrier IQ, especially when you can isolate specific applications that are impacting performance.
So, the next time you get a dropped call, you can be assured that if the operator is a Carrier IQ customer, the operator knows about it, where it happened and all the conditions that might have contributed to the event. Feedback such as this is helping operators to adjust their infrastructure to provide better service and to implement enhancements and other changes to accommodate growth in cellular data traffic. It’s also helping device manufactures to build better mobile devices.
J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D. is Principal Analyst of Mobile & Wireless at MobileTrax LLC. As a nationally recognized industry authority, Dr. Purdy focuses on monitoring and analyzing emerging trends, technologies and market behavior in the mobile computing and wireless data communications industry in North America. Dr. Purdy is an “edge of network” analyst looking at devices, applications and services, as well as wireless connectivity to those devices. Dr. Purdy provides critical insights regarding mobile and wireless devices, wireless data communications and connection to the infrastructure that powers the data in the wireless handheld. He is author of the column Inside Mobile & Wireless that provides industry insights and is read by over 100,000 people a month.
Dr. Purdy continues to be affiliated with the venture capital industry as well. He currently is Managing Director at Yosemite Ventures. And he spent five years as a Venture Advisor for Diamondhead Ventures in Menlo Park where he identified, attracted and recommended investments in emerging companies in mobile and wireless. He has had a prior affiliation with East Peak Advisors and, subsequently, following their acquisition, with FBR Capital Markets. For more than 16 years, Dr. Purdy has been consulting, speaking, researching, networking, writing and developing state-of-the-art concepts that challenge people’s mind-sets, as well as developing new ways of thinking and forecasting in the mobile computing and wireless data arenas. Often quoted, Dr. Purdy’s ideas and opinions are followed closely by thought leaders in the mobile and wireless industry. He is author of three books as well.
Dr. Purdy currently is a member of the Program Advisory Board of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) which produces CES, one of the largest trade shows in the world. He is a frequent moderator at CTIA conferences and GSM Mobile World Congress. He also is a member of the Board of the Atlanta Wireless Technology Forum. Dr. Purdy has a B.S. degree in Engineering Physics from University of Tennessee, a M.S. degree in Computer Science from UCLA, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Exercise Physiology from Stanford University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclosure Statement: From time to time, I may have a direct or indirect equity position in a company that is mentioned in this column. If that situation happens, then I’ll disclose it at that time.