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Logging cellphone locations - the real purpose

When researching next-generation location technologies for our report Mobile Location-Based Services 2012-2015, we looked a lot at the location logging scandal that got a lot of attention in April.  It's clear that most smartphone platforms, including iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, log the locations of Wi-Fi networks and cellular cells that the phones detect.  This data is then used to provide location services when GPS is turned off or unavailable.

What we found, however, is that many companies are researching other uses for location logs as well.  The biggest use is user profiling, whereby the places a user goes can be used to develop a profile of the user's activities.  This profile is used to personalize services and target promotions and advertisements.

That Google is doing this wasn't a surprise.  Microsoft has also been researching this for a long time, using location logs and other data to learn about "life patterns" and "user activities, goals, and context."  Nokia also has a long-running research project in this area, which appears to be continuing even since Nokia's alliance with Microsoft.  Sony Ericsson is also researching the area.

What's more surprising is that Nokia's research in this area, since their alliance with Microsoft, appears to be working on location logging on Android and iOS devices.  It'll be interesting to see if and how this comes to market.

What will consumers think of all this?  Many will probably cry "big brother!" but many others are likely to like the personalization and usability that these profiles may bring.  If phones can build user profiles that save you button clicks and touch-screen swipes, you'll probably be happy.

More details are available in the Grizzly Analytics report (click here).  Or you can wait to hear about it until it hits market....

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