I first talked about the competitive issues of big data at the 2013 IGF in Bali. In actual fact the competitive implications of a subset, utility customer information, were discussed back in 1992. But it was rare to think that there was anything to talk about other than privacy. Finally, the message seems to be getting through.
The concern is that while data can give a business competitive advantage, unique treasure troves of data can provide one player with unique insight and, potentially that can be translated into market power.
This may already be happening with relation to Google’s use of data collected both from Android and from search. As part of its prioritisation of all things digital the Commission continues to assess and investigate both Google search and Android.
Mobile communication may be at the cutting edge of value when it comes to big data analysis. Mobile data is increasingly available via GPS tracking and use of applications, increasing with increasing smartphone penetration. This enables companies to potentially know more than ever before about consumers, and derive their needs and desires from what they are searching for, where they are and what they are doing.
As anyone using a modern smartphone knows, data is often collected from cookies running in the background. It is not that technically different from data created by users for searching the web from traditional computers in the home or office.