Content Discovery a Lucrative But Dangerous Place for Operators


Mobile network operators can boost data revenues by providing personalized apps and content experiences for their subscribers, according to a report released today by Qualcomm (s qcom). But the carriers will have to walk a fine line between being helpful and being invasive as they try to take their customers by the hand.

According to the San Diego-based chip maker — which is touting Xiam, its mobile content discovery technology — 63 percent of users polled in the UK and U.S. said they’d spend more time accessing or purchasing content if the stuff they were looking for was easier to find. Four out of five respondents said difficulty obtaining content is “a major problem,” and users estimated they would spend an average of an hour more per week and $8 more per month on mobile data if their content was personalized.

Such difficulty is especially easy to appreciate given the ways most users search for content on their phones. The two most common ways to look for mobile content are using search engines or typing in URLs on the device, Qualcomm said — methods that can deliver headaches more quickly than they produce accurate search results.

There’s no question that discoverability is a huge problem on the mobile web, and carriers — with their established billing mechanisms and strong content partners — are indeed well positioned to help their users spend money. But they’re also likely to be seen as intrusive by some, and as flat-out invading users’ privacy if they try to target content by tracking user behavior and purchases. And they’re sure to be resented by some users who figure their mobile company already takes a big enough chunk of change every month. There are opportunities to subtly suggest content their users might actually pay for, but carriers will have to tread very gingerly as they approach those subscribers.


Adam Mars

I think that if a carrier analyzes the purchases made by a user on their devices and serves up recommendations based on their purchase history, there won’t be a large backlash from users. This is a similar model to Amazon, iTunes Genius etc.

Now if carriers somehow aggregate more personal information from text messages, call lists, or even web browsing, then I can see users having more concerns over privacy. Those types of activities can be very personal.

Can you imagine seeing a recommendation for the game “Lemonade Tycoon” show up in a shopping client because a user mentioned in a text message that a glass of Lemonade would sound nice? Verrrry big brother-ish.

But I dont see that happening. Carriers will base their recommendation off of purchase events and consumers will be alright with that.


Carriers typically do not make the application discovery and purchase process easy. They insist on users use their tiny mobile screens to look for content and applications. Many of them do not even have a search function to find applications.

Some operators might offer a browser look-up but the catalog shown could be different from what is shown on the device. After consumers find an application they like, they have to go back to the phone and re-locate the app and buy it from there.

To add insult to injury, some carriers charge consumers even to browse the application catalog and for application downloads from their devices!!!


2 things:
1. How about you continue to record their data but dont push consumption so that takes care of the “you’re freaking me out” part, but you rather make it an option and when they do need it, it will be there and close to matching their preferences.
2. I am curious to know the demographics of the survey respondents who prefer not to disclose information. We have the younger generation most definately being active in social networks and online gaming platforms where they’re inherently sharing information. So my point is, maybe this is a mute question and is being amplified by the generation gap. Case in point, 10years ago who would have believed putting credit card info into the web was a safe option…

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