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Qualcomm Buys Content Discovery Startup

Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) announced today that it has acquired Ireland-based content discovery and recommendation startup Xiam Technologies Ltd. for $32 million. (See Qualcomm Buys Xiam.)

The move fits with Qualcomm's drive into services and also brings some key operator accounts in Europe.

Xiam's technology, called My Personal Offers System (MPOS), enables mobile operators to target content offers in real-time to their customers based on customers' profile information.

"Our technology helps to identify from a large amount of content the content that is most interesting for a user," says Colm Healy, CEO of Xiam.

This capability can help operators boost content sales, such as full-track music downloads, games, or ringtones, and also improve their customers' experience by presenting them with content that is tailored to their personal tastes.

"This creates a more compelling experience for the consumer," says Mitch Oliver, vice president of product management for Qualcomm Internet Services. "Instead of being spammed with irrelevant upsell opportunities… the more sticky the user becomes to the operator."

Another application for Xiam's MPOS is mobile advertising.

"Advertising is a very important proposition. We hope technologies like what we get with Xiam will help make that a good experience for the consumer," says Oliver. "We want to make sure that what happens with mobile advertising is not just a clone of what happens on the Internet."

Qualcomm says it has been looking around for a recommendation engine and last year it partnered with Xiam to integrate the MPOS into its BREW user interface platform. (See Qualcomm Uses Xiam.)

Qualcomm will operate Xiam as a wholly-owned subsidiary and sell the MPOS as a standalone product. Qualcomm also plans to integrate the MPOS technology into its BREW solution for mobile operators and BrandXtend solution, which is aimed at brands and media companies.

According to Paola Pescatore, director of applications and services at CCS Insight , Qualcomm's acquisition is indicative of equipment vendors' expansion into services.

"Everyone is pursuing a services-based strategy," says Pescatore. "Carriers are struggling to entice users to enhanced data services."

Qualcomm has been building up its services business through several acquisitions in the last few years, such as Trigenix in 2004 and Elata in 2005. And the vendor recently restructured its services business units and put them under the control of executive vice president Len Lauer, who is expected to soon unveil a new services strategy for Qualcomm (See Trigenix Brews With Qualcomm, Qualcomm Acquires Trigenix, Qualcomm Adds to BREW, Qualcomm Teams With Elata, and Qualcomm Swallows Elata.)

The acquisition of Xiam adds to Qualcomm's service enablement capabilities and boosts its position in Europe, where its BREW platform has not had the same takeup as it has in North America. (See BREW Bubbles Into Europe.)

Xiam has three operator customers that it can name, which are Vodafone Ireland , O2 Ireland , and Orange UK . Xiam's Healy says that the firm is also in the early stages of deployment with three other European operators.

Vodafone Ireland is using Xiam's platform for targeting users with relevant advertising. Orange UK uses the platform to make content recommendations from its Orange World portal, such as games, ringtones, and images. Meanwhile, O2 in Ireland uses Xiam's platform for marketing its own services to subscribers.

For mobile content, Xiam claims its recommendation platform increases mobile operator content sales.

"We compare the level of content sales for people receiving the personalized offers with a control group [that doesn't receive the offers]," explains Healy. "We're seeing a significant uplift of content sales as a result of this [platform]." But Healy would not elaborate on how much the sales improved.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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