Interview with inbabble.com
I was recently interviewed by Richard Tucker (a fellow Aussie) from inbabble.com during a recent media tour for Seeker Wireless. He kindly blogged about the intereview – produced below with his permission.
Interview: Andrew Grill, Seeker Wireless, on their location based technology
Seeker Wireless provides location awareness technology for mobile phones, but rather than offer location based search or advertising, Seeker prefers to help carriers with more accurate phone bills (at least initially). I caught up with the GM of Sales at Seeker Wireless, Andrew Grill, to find out more.
As background Seeker Wireless was spun out of research within the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). The company’s technology hooks into carrier networks to process signal information and provide an accurate location for mobile handsets. Seeker has 50 staff is privately funded and is currently in trials around the world.
So what makes Seeker’s technology unique? Well the technology sits on any phone (thus larger reach than GPS) it comes carrier installed (thus not depending on users to download an application) and while not as accurate as GPS it is 6-9 times more accurate than Cell ID (400-800m versus 2,500-7,000m). According to Grill this is the key to Seekers advantage; a relatively accurate location awareness technology that will work on more phones than its competitors.
So what is Seeker’s business model? Seeker’s focus is on providing mobile operators with accurate billing data for their ‘home zone’ offers. If you are not familiar with the ‘home zone’ concept this is where mobile operators position their service as an alternate to fixed line phones. By using Cell ID a cheap home-based plan can be offered, hopefully cheap enough to entice users to forego a fixed line. Unfortunately for mobile operators Cell IDs can result in huge ‘home zones’ – subscribers could be at the local shops and getting ‘home zone’ rates rather than full rate mobile rates. Seekers proposition is simple, with more accurate location technology you reduce revenue leakage and thus increase profits. Seeker believes this leakage is significant and have a calculator to demonstrate this.
Seeker may have a real edge by pitching location technology that has an immediate impact to the bottom line. The same technology that Grill hopes will be championed by a mobile operator’s CFO will then allow further opportunities to ‘turn on’ location aware services such as advertising. Seeker’s approach means the Chief Marketing Officer won’t need to convince the CFO to buy a whole lot of infrastructure… it will already be there.
So who are the competitors? According to Grill it is the R&D sections of mobile operators! While technologies such as Femto Cells and Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) also pose threats, he also sees potential synergies. That story will need to wait till another post however…
After talking to Andrew I have to agree that Seeker does have an interesting play on the traditional location based services we often report about on inbabble.com. There appears to be a clear niche with an approach that has an obvious business case to any potential mobile operator with a ‘home zone’ offer.