Carrier IQ Bits and Pieces

Some background about Carrier IQ before the hullabaloo started.

  • People had found about this before
  • Some in the industry questioned why such an expensive solution for a relatively simple problem
  • Data was available to ‘market researchers’
  • Software was installed on modems too
  • A lot of carriers were involved

This is not new. Several people have pointed this out before. This from December 2010: xda-developers – View Single Post – **warning** you can get your phone to a unrecoverable state:

On whether or not it’s possible for Sprint to dig up data after a complete Odin wipe may be debatable, but I lean toward supporting the “yes, they can” side. Sprint has been, for – as far as I can tell – a while, since the Moment at least, been including Carrier IQ in Android ROMs. Carrier IQ – which you can get more info on here (browse around there) is highly invasive, to the level of being spyware. It tracks signal data, application usage, and much else – its services and libraries are tied deeply into the system, to the point that killing just the client (not the server) will destroy the battery meter.

And this, even earlier, from a potential rival: Carrier IQ: Mobile Service Intelligence ?’s – DeadZones.com. They point out that Carrier IQ is very expensive, and has raised a lot of money, for something that is supposedly very simple (finding dropout zones). Commenters point out the pitfalls (lower battery life, data in the hands of faceless corporations):

I did not give consent for this and see the use of such software unethical. I can see no positive effect this can have for the end user. I can see many scenarios in which these corporations could heinously profit from it, though.

Back in 2008, it could claim, according to Company 2008: FierceWireless, Fierce 15 – FierceWireless, that

Carrier IQ’s client list includes Sprint and Sierra Wireless. CEO Quinlivan says the firm works with at least seven of the top 10 major OEMs. Look for the firm to increase its scale in the coming year through more vendor and carrier deals.

Huawei is a customer, not only for handsets, but also for modems: Huawei to Embed Network Diagnostic Tools into 3G Modems in 2009 says:

Announcing the partnership, Carrier IQ CEO, Mark Quinlivan, said: “These new cards will make for smoother delivery of Mobile Data services, improvements in Customer Care services, identification of network coverage gaps and increased awareness of actual user behavior.”

This from Sept 2010 Carrier IQ Powers Android Platform with Mobile Service Intelligence makes clear a number of things.

Experience = behavior for Carrier IQ, so this is not just about logging dropouts:

On-device measurement of the mobile user experience is the key to better understanding user behavior and ultimately optimizing product offerings to match market demands.

This data was not just available to the telcos. The press release also includes an unlikely end-user:

Carrier IQ enables mobile operators, device manufacturers, application developers and market researchers to improve their offerings based on direct insight into the customer experience.

As of last year, 12 leading vendors were using Carrier IQ:

Deployed on over 90M devices from 12 leading vendors worldwide, Carrier IQ is the leading provider of Mobile Service Intelligence solutions that use mobile devices to provide detailed metrics in a highly secure environment.

Update: Office Update You Should Probably Have

 If you’ve already upgraded to Microsoft Office 2003 (why, exactly?) there’s an update you should download. This update, Microsoft says in its understated way, “fixes a problem that occurs when you try to open or to save a Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003 file, a Microsoft Office Word 2003 file, or a Microsoft Office Excel 2003 file that includes an OfficeArt shape that was previously modified and saved in an earlier version of Microsoft Office.”
 
It turns out that if you save one of those files containing an OfficeArt shape (a particularly kind of graphic) in Office 2003, then open it in an earlier version of Office, you may lose the whole thing. Or, in Microsoft-speak, “you may experience the following symptoms:
The document may not open completely.
The document may be corrupted.
The document may open but with missing content.
You might receive an error message.”
You’ve been warned. More details here.

Update: Online Music Gets Nasty

 This whole online MP3 download service business is getting nasty. The Register reports that MusicMatch and Apple, once in cahoots, are now doing what they can to elbow the other off the stage. “Apple and MusicMatch are locked in a battle to see who can infect as many personal computers with DRM (digital rights management) as quickly as possible,” The Register says. Good point: with different systems in place for managing the MP3s you download, users will find it hard to have two or more subscriptions to these services going at the same time. The upshot: whichever software you use will determine which subscription service you use.
 

News: Blogging And The Art Of Organisation.

 Very interesting article from Fast Company on where blogging may be going: turning an individual into a virtual organisation and leveraging the Internet’s natural community-building tendency to run it. The focus is the legendary Joi Ito.

News: Online Music Sites Compared

 If you’re confused about the abundance of online music sites, here’s a chart comparing what they offer, and what they lack, from The Philadelphia Inquirer.

News: RFID Tags’ Dirty Secret

 A story from Reuters that says one of the biggest hurdles facing RFID tags — the widgets that store information about products — is that they still aren’t very good. “The tags fall far below the 99 percent reliability rate of UPC tags because of the difficulty of transmitting clean radio signals,” the piece says.
 
Many of the companies currently making them may not survive long enough to see the market emerge, apparently. “We are at an incredibly early stage of this technology and what it is actually capable of doing. All the promise of real-time supply chain visibility is just that. It’s promise,” IDC analyst Christopher Boone said.
 
 

News: China Awash With Viruses

 I’m sure this is true in other part of Asia: The majority of Chinese computers are infected by viruses, according to a survey conducted by the public information network security supervision bureau of the Ministry of Public Security. CyberAtlas says 85 percent of computers in China were affected by viruses in 2003 – 1.59 percentage points higher than in 2002 and 25.57 percentage points higher than measurements in 2001.
 
What worries me is how many of those were actually cleaned, and how many are still infected?

New: Gator Changes Name, But That’s All

 A rose by any other name? CNET reports that Gator, the controversial advertising software and e-wallet company, has “changed its name to better reflect its business in behavioral marketing”. The change, CNET says, distances the company from a name that has become synonymous with “spyware”–that is, ad-tracking software that can be installed surreptitiously.
 
Despite landing such Fortune 500 advertisers as American Express and Target, the company has had difficulty dispelling the negative connotations of its software. It also has faced several lawsuits for its advertising practices. In recent weeks it has gone on the offensive, launching a legal offensive to divorce its name from the hated term ‘spyware’, with some success. In response to a libel lawsuit, antispyware company PC Pitstop has settled with Gator and pulled Web pages critical of the company, its practices and its software.

News: Tiny Drives Get Bigger

 Hitachi today is now shipping one-inch diameter drives storing 4 gigabytes with a a data transfer rate that is 70 percent faster than the previous-generation Microdrive. Hitachi reckons it’s the “world’s smallest hard disk drive“, weighing just over a half an ounce and equivalent in size to a matchbook.

Hitachi will continue to offer its current 1GB Microdrive to customers throughout the world and is planning to introduce a 2GB version of the Microdrive later this year. The company expects the new 4GB Microdrive 3K4 to be available on retail shelves in major markets this November for about $500.

News: The Death Of The PDA

 Interesting article by Reuters’ Franklin Paul on the death of the PDA (no link available, I’m afraid). “The truth is, the PDA as it was first envisioned – as nothing more than a fancy digital pocket organizer – may be nearly extinct,” he writes. Three years ago, consumers rushed to buy PDAs, but “today, its the mailroom guys and soccer moms who are toting handhelds, and the slick executives carry new wireless devices that look more like cell phones, or thin notebook computers able to link to high-speed web access at various business sites.”
 
Paul cites IDC figures predicting that traditional PDA shipments will decline slightly this year from 12.3 million in 2002, and see minimal growth at best in 2004, while smartphones will top 13 million this year and find annual growth of over 86 percent by 2007.