The “Why?” Behind Apple and Google Device Location Tracking © 2012 Tina Whitfield

All the Apple and Google headlines have propelled friends, colleagues, and clients to ask me about the “why?” behind Apple and Google embedding tracking technology with their controlled handsets.

Let’s take Google as the framework to answer the “why?”

While Google is developing relationships with wireless operators, Google through Android can by-pass the carriers to identify and locate any device using Google Maps.

The benefit to a user is that they can view their location even if their handset does not have GPS technology – using instead Cell ID technology / triangulation of three cell towers.  Accuracy range  is from 50 to 550 meters.

The benefit to Google is that the company acquires data sets on cell tower locations along with a user’s device that is enabled with GPS and maps the coordinates.   By-passing the wireless carriers eliminate the need for Google to purchase user location information to run advertising and marketing campaigns on behalf of their massive client-base.  Further, Google provides developers of mobile location search and services the Cell-ID data of more than 200K towers. Google’s technology approach is much less accurate than using GPS-based solutions for specific location accuracy, but it may be enough for location-based advertising campaigns.

The bottom-line is that Google and Apple will not have to purchase subscriber data or share revenue with wireless carriers and operators to run advertising and more.


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