Blog Post

Qualcomm's Xiam Tells You Where It's At

xiam-qualcomm-logo-150Updated: On Monday, Qualcomm (s qcom) announced a location-based recommendation engine powered by Xiam, which it acquired last March. The service (offered through carriers) takes demographic information, a user’s personal preferences and geographic location, and serves up lists of places and events that the user might enjoy. For example, if I’m visiting San Francisco, my Xiam-equipped carrier could use my location to show me Indian restaurants (a favorite of mine) near my hotel from Yelp, or concerts I might like to hit based on my ringtones. Xiam combines my preferences and data consumption to build the recommendations. It also can be used to offer ads.

It works with any GPS chip and has open APIs, which means location providers such as Skyhook and local information services such as Yelp can work with the platform. Update: However, today’s launch of Google’s (s Goog) Latitude mobile social mapping service could end up competing with Xiam and its carrier customers by offering ads based on location as well. Still, this is Qualcomm’s effort to join companies like Apple (s aapl), which pioneered touch, and Nuance ( s nuan), which has pushed speech recognition, in improving the way we navigate mobile phones.

The service seems like a handy way to squeeze the infinite content of the web onto the tiny real estate of the mobile screen fast enough for impatient mobile users. It would be an obvious benefit for people who travel, but it also poses some privacy problems. It’s more akin to firms that look at recommendations to offer ads such as Phorm or NebuAd, than a location service like Where. Colm Healy, VP and general manager of Xiam, says he thinks the service could help deliver better-targeted ads, which is important on mobile phones since consumers resent an influx of advertising onto their devices. However, increased relevance of advertising comes from the carrier noting your location and user-provided personal preferences, as well as preferences logged by the software as someone surfs the web on the device.

Healy says users opt into the service, but I’m still creeped out by my carrier tracking my sites and using that to offer services and ads.

10 Responses to “Qualcomm's Xiam Tells You Where It's At”

  1. I’m talking about Users legitimate complaint about retaining control of what/when/how they use their time & space!

    I am not overly paranoid about anyone knowing where I am, I am just not prepared to let any system take control of anything which should be left within the Users control!

  2. Jesse Kopelman


    I’ve never seen a mobile phone with built-in GPS that didn’t have a way to turn it off.

    As for backchat channels, what are you talking about? Are you talking about the control channel information that can also be used to locate a user (and cannot be disabled with the phone still being usable) or are you talking about something else?

    This all seems like paranoia to me. Landlines also allow easy location of the user and monitoring of his traffic. If you really care about this stuff, switch to prepaid cell phones (aka burners) and replace often. If you’ve got a fixed phone number, you can be tracked . . .

  3. Yeah GPS is great, so are all those backchat channels hidden from the Mobile User!

    But where are the ON/OFF Selections so that the Mobile User can decide what/when/how /why to use them!

    Guess who knows about the technology & because of that NEVER USES a Mobile Phone!

  4. bluecar1

    not one i would opt in for,
    how does it work out which restuarant to recommend? customer ratings? rac stars? or who pays the most to place the advert?

    also sounds like a good reason to keep using my trusty old nokia 6210, i kept it yet again when offered an upgrade at work to a shiny new samsung running windows mobile due to the samsungs rubbish battery life, complex functionality and its built in gps module, my boss was comfused when i registered it, took the sim out and gave it back to him unused

    this just proves how right i was

    where i am, what i look at, who i phone is private information, telco have my permission to use it for billing only, i wish to keep it that way, i get enough adverts on bill boards and free papers, just don’t need anymore on a phone as well

    so telco’s roll this out at your peril if you want to see customer churn rise, numbers fall


  5. Typical modern misuse of technology; there are plenty of other places where this type of Technology would be useful especially in this current Economic Slump!

    But to use it for Serving Ads & tracking Users most of which will be unwanted , I class as a misuse to put it mildly!

  6. Three things I don’t want a communication company to provide to anyone else;

    What I send & receive.
    Who I communication with.
    Where I am.

    Its a principle called client confidentiality, and a telco that can’t provide that to me can take their service, and leave.

    “Client confidentiality is the principle that an institution or individual should not reveal information about their clients to a third party without the consent of the client or a clear legal reason.”