Insert «Paranoid Android» joke here

22 Nov 2007

"So what do you make of Google and their Android OS‾"

My gut reaction was, "Good luck getting 33 vendors to agree on anything in less than a couple of years". I'm also not 100% convinced we need yet another OS for handsets, even if it is based on open-source Linux.

Assuming they get it up and running, the real issue may be what Google really wants to do with its own mobile OS: namely, use it to sell more advertising.

CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood has said as much, telling the Times:

'By getting into mobile, Google can refine the information it has on you - find out who you are calling on the move and what you want to know on the move "&brkbar; This means it can then target ads ever more efficiently, which means it can charge advertisers more for the adverts they are placing.'

Privacy watchdog groups are already assuming the worst, but to be honest, this is exactly what mobile advertising is all about. Mobile advertising is expected to be the hot revenue stream for a slew of new mobile services for the simple reason that users only have so much to realistically spend on them. And the research suggests that most users would welcome mobile ads - provided they're relevant and narrowly targeted.

And the best way to do that‾ Build a profile using whatever customer data you can get, whether it's usage data collected by the cellco, or by Android.

Which isn't to say privacy groups are full of hot air. At the very least, there needs to be a transparent process for building profiles, opt-out/opt-in capability, and other user-friendly options to ensure that users aren't being given something they don't want - or that their information is being leaked or misused in any way.

For what it's worth, when I was in the US earlier this month, I had dinner with some friends I hadn't seen for ages, and mobile advertising came up in the conversation. (Note that I wasn't the one who brought it up, and these are people who are not in the mobile or advertising business). The view on mobile advertising broke into two camps, which can be summarized as follows:

1. Oh great, that's all I need, MORE ads!

2. Fine by me, I'm so inundated by ads I don't even notice them anymore.

Did you catch that last bit‾

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