Qualcomm announced Wednesday that it has purchased Xiam Technologies for $32 million. Xiam provides a system that combines behavioral data on how people use services on their phones with demographic information to send highly targeted offers to users.
The deal quickly follows the acquisition of Firethorn, a mobile banking company.
The mobile operators are in a very privileged position with the customer information they hold in that they know what people do, where they do it, how they pay for it and - most importantly - who they are.
This gives them better customer data than anyone except the credit card providers and means that they can work towards the holy grail of marketing which is to deliver the right stimulus to the right person at the right time. Even Amazon, which has a respectable recommendation engine, cannot distinguish between my own purchases and those I make for my young son, so it keeps offering things I'm just not interested in.
At present, though, few mobile operators make sophisticated use of that data in running their core business and even fewer have made good progress in building the intelligence needed to support the wider business of selling various forms of content to users. So that role has been left to smaller companies such as Xtract and Xiam.
For Qualcomm this acquisition provides the opportunity to scale Xiam's offering up more quickly than Xiam could have done alone, and to help this area mature. It will be an important part of the services division's portfolio as a stand-alone system.
Qualcomm was already a customer of Xiam and the system is integrated with the Elata content delivery system that Qualcomm acquired a while ago, which is a core part of its BREW system.
Xiam has already built an impressive customer list with Vodafone, Orange, O2, Hutchison and Globe Telecom. This will also be an important aspect for Qualcomm, which sees the Services division as a key way to build business in GSM-dominated areas such as Western Europe.
Martin Garner, Director of Wireless Intelligence