Carrier IQ: You should know what your phone knows about you

@CNNMoneyTech February 28, 2012: 10:36 AM ET
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BARCELONA, Spain (CNNMoney) -- The company behind the secret cell phone software that caused a massive privacy stir late last year doesn't want the data it lets carriers collect from you to be a secret anymore.

Carrier IQ unveiled a new software code Tuesday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that allows consumers to dive deep into their devices and see what's ailing their phones. Previously, carriers were the only ones with access to the information that the Carrier IQ software was collecting, and the data was never so specific.

Among the issues the software is able to detect include what tasks are draining your battery, where your calls tend to drop, and which apps are hurting your phone's performance.

Carrier IQ believes giving consumers more control of their devices will be an attractive new option for carriers. The company said 40% of customers that request technical support for their devices don't need it, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars for wireless companies.

Some carriers have tried to offload tech support calls to their websites, but those services have proven to be highly inefficient. Many failed attempts to troubleshoot problems online result in customers headed right back to the phone lines. Informing customers of what exactly is going on inside their phone could eliminate a lot of unnecessary tech support calls.

"Operators really don't want customers calling in, and customers hate calling carriers anyway," said Andrew Coward, head of marketing for Carrier IQ.

The software company said that after the damaging privacy fiasco erupted, it thought long and hard about becoming a direct-to-consumer service provider to add a layer of clarity about what it does. But Carrier IQ decided against that, because so much of the critical information about a phone's performance pertains to the network.

Your cell phone is out of your control

Carrier IQ's software can allow cell phone companies to provide customers with maps of dropped calls on their website or give customers a sense of how fast their phone performs compared to other customers with the same device.

Some Carrier IQ test partners are already taking advantage of this newfound ability to identify specific problems with a user's device. One network that tested Carrier IQ's new software proactively identified the top 100 worst performing devices on their network and called each customer to troubleshoot what was going wrong.

"We want to ensure that consumers understand what information is being collected about them," said Coward. "But at the end of the day, we don't work with consumers. It's up to the networks to disclose that information." To top of page

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