Someone to Watch Over Me?
For the deal didn't just cover a search button, it also potentially gives Google the ability to know where a particular user is when they search for something, and return targeted ads based on what was searched for and the user's location.
This is enabled through the GPS satellite positioning chips on Motorola's phone, which determine a user's position to within a number of meters -- although it should be noted that GPS tends to be less accurate in built-up areas, as three satellites need to be able to "see" the phone in order to get an accurate fix. Many operators use additional data from the phone network itself to help improve accuracy in these cases.
Still, it is obvious that using GPS ads sent to the phone could be very precisely tuned to what the user wants and where they are at any particular moment. But is this a desirable development for the mobile industry?
Certainly GPS has its practical applications -- such as e911 location services. But it seems that the Google deal could be the first step on the road to a world where advertisers of every stripe could gain access to far more detailed information about our wants and movements than they already have.
Google will tell us this is a good thing. But is it? Or will it mean that phones become a conduit for a kind of super spam that knows where you are and what you want?
It's time to start asking these sorts of questions -- for location-aware ads are coming soon, maybe even to a phone near you.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung