The Death Knell for LBS


This article was originally published at The Growth Masters Daily (www.thegrowthmasters.com)

The Death Knell for LBS

By

David J Dunworth O. C. E.

(CEO of TeXT-Icon Mobile Marketing Communications)

The image below identifies the process of location based services as Apple and Google use it. Under scrutiny of the United States Legislature, pressure has increased to protect the privacy and personal information of the mobile consumer.

Keeping Track | How Apple, Google use Location Data

Image – Wall Street Journal

There is a great deal of buzz regarding the recent problems Apple has received regarding LBS, location based services, having the ability to track mobile devices, and the possibility of the theft of owner information.  This could sound the alarm, resulting in the end for LBS all together.  In recent articles appearing in the Wall Street Journal, Apple’s Steve Jobs made some interesting statements relating to the amount of information their devices are storing and tracking.

Apple’s statements merely raised questions and controversy, and Representative Barton (R. Texas) stated that Apple “Lied” to him and other lawmakers. In a meeting more than a year ago, Apple told them that its phones don’t collect and transmit location-based data when location services when the tracking is shut off.

Apple’s Statement

Steve Jobs, Apples CEO, never apologized for his company’s actions, but stated that the iPhone and iPad software will be scaled back on the amount of information tracking the phones produce.  He went on to state that the only information gathered by the cell phone are the wireless towers locations, which may be more than one hundred miles from the user.  But it is clear that wi-fi hot spots have that capability, and may be as near as ten feet.

Google, Inc. produces the software for the Android class of Smartphones, and are too under the gun from both consumers and Congress for the same gathering and storing of data.

Directly from WSJ

April 27, 2011

WSJ.com Senior Technology Editor Julia Angwin reports Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android regularly transmit user location data back to those companies, based on data analyzed by The Wall Street Journal.

Researchers last week said Apple’s iPhones store unencrypted databases containing months of location information. Tests conducted by the Journal and independent researcher Samy Kamkar found these databases were updated—and some information sent to Apple—even when the location services were turned off.

That contradicts what Apple told Rep. Barton in a letter last July. “When a member of Congress asks a straightforward question, reputable members of the business community should give a straightforward answer,” Mr. Barton said in an interview. “Apparently, they lied to us.”

In the interview, Mr. Jobs said Apple in recent days had discovered software “bugs” in how the phones capture and store data. “We were surprised by them and it took us a few days to figure out what was going on,” he said.

Beyond the information stored on the phone, the Journal has reported that iPhones, Android phones and some personal computers regularly transmit information about their locations to Apple and Google. Apple said Wednesday an individual can’t be located using the Wi-Fi and tower data and that the data are anonymous. It said it discloses the collection practices in privacy policies.

Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs

Mr. Jobs said Apple planned to testify at an upcoming congressional hearing. Google said it would testify at a hearing set for May 10.

As the battle heats up, privacy remains the ultimate concern for consumers and the lawmakers.  In a recent survey conducted by Microsoft’s LBS researchers identified that as more than half of consumers are “very concerned” about their identities being stolen through this technology.  In an age where identity theft takes years to correct, this is a tremendous stumbling block to the advancement of this marketing tool.

Fifty percent of consumers sharing the same negative feelings spell trouble for the future of this technology, in my opinion.

TeXT-Icon Mobile Marketing Communications

David J Dunworth is a business consultant to the entrepreneur and emerging enterprise sectors, and is the Chief Executive Officer of TeXT-Icon Mobile Marketing Communications, a full service marketing company.  For additional information, see his blog at http://www.theovercaffeinatedentrepreneur.wordpress.com.

About davidjdunworth

Dunworth’s success comes from a simple belief; “I can sleep when I am dead; then there will be plenty of time for that!” Since the door to door days of his youth, Dunworth has opened, managed and sold more than 25 businesses, and works as a consultant to entrepreneurs and emerging enterprises. His advice for entrepreneurs desiring to grow quickly: “Find the busiest man or woman you can find and enlist their support. You’d be amazed at the results.”
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