T-Mobile begins selling app data collected from Android phones

A mobile phone running on the T-Mobile wireless network. (Photo: The Desk)

A T-Mobile executive affirms the company is now selling data to third parties related to how its customers use their smartphones and other devices connected on its wireless network.

The affirmation came in a wide-ranging interview this week with the publication Ad Exchanger, during which Jessica Zhu, the company’s head of advertising, said the company was able to determine which apps a customer had installed on their phone, how they were using them and which websites they visited in a browser.

The data is part of a T-Mobile service called App Insights, which is a software-based analytic program that collects user data from wireless subscribers with Android phones. The company is not collecting data from users of Apple iPhones due to the electronics company’s stringent data protection practices.

The type of data collected by T-Mobile helps it and third-party buyers know more information about a specific customer, though the company appears more focused on “grouping” people into different demographics at the moment. For example, if a customer has certain travel-related applications on their phone and opens them frequently, T-Mobile may presume that the user frequently travels for business.

As part of the focus on data collection, T-Mobile executives say they have renamed the advertising revenue portion of their business from T-Mobile Marketing Solutions to T-Mobile Advertising Solutions. Mike Peralta, the general manager of the division, said the name helps better reflect what T-Mobile is currently doing and intends to do in the future.

“When you say ‘marketing solutions,’ half the people think you’re a CRM and half think you’re the T-Mobile marketing group that buys the media,” he said.