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So How Do You Actually Use Your Cellphone?

In the past few years cell phone manufacturers have dazzled us with an amazing array of features. Basic games and simple text messaging are now passé. Cameras were once considered a big deal. Now, the latest models come with music players and Internet access. Two percent of subscribers watch television on their phones and we are witnessing the first moves to create programming specifically for cellphones.

Ask anyone in the mobile phone industry and you will get one answer: It’s almost impossible to tell which features are more popular among consumers. Manufacturers, operators, advertisers, and software manufacturers — no one has a precise answer. At best they are guesstimates.

Today’s International Herald Tribune features an interesting story about a company that aims to track what consumers are doing with their cellphones. Seattle-based M:Metrics has come up with MeterDirect, to monitor cellphone usage throughout the day. MeterDirect is downloaded on the phone and sends back usage patterns once a day. It will monitor how much time consumers spend talking, texting, gaming, surfing the Internet and so on.

While the company plans to launch the MeterDirect service only in the U.S. and Britain, it also has a MobiLens service that collects data on mobile phone usage (voice only).

Such data collection could be crucial for both operators and advertisers, and will assist with mobile advertising taking off. It remains to be seen how reliable this data proves to be. Users will be paid a fee in exchange for participating, and past experience, even with measuring television viewing at home, has shown this is not the best way to go about it. Still, it’s a start and one that could prove invaluable to advertisers, operators, and manufacturers alike.

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