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Your Smartphone’s Location Data Is Worth Big Money to Wall Street
Thasos is at the vanguard of companies trying to help traders get ahead of stock moves like that using so-called alternative data. Such suppliers might examine mine slag heaps from outer space, analyze credit-card spending data or sort through construction permits. Thasos’s specialty is spewing out of your smartphone... Thasos gets data from about 1,000 apps, many of which need to know a phone’s location to be effective, like those providing weather forecasts, driving directions or the whereabouts of the nearest ATM. Smartphone users, wittingly or not, share their location when they use such apps... Before Thasos gets the data, suppliers scrub it of personally identifiable information, Mr. Skibiski said. It is just time-stamped strings of longitude and latitude. But with more than 100 million phones providing such coordinates, Thasos says it can paint detailed pictures of the ebb and flow of people, and thus their money... Thasos says it can count the phone-carrying shoppers who ditch their regular grocers when a new Whole Foods opens, or gauge drilling activity by sizing up the crowds at oil-patch bars. By identifying the census block where each phone spends the night, Thasos algorithms estimate how far customers travel to malls and shoppers’ incomes... Thasos won’t name its clients, but Mr. Skibiski says it sells data to dozens of hedge funds, some of which pay more than $1 million a year... This month, Thasos is set to start offering data through Bloomberg terminals. A measure of mall foot traffic will be widely available.. Mr. Skibiski and scientists at Sense studied movements of prepaid phones, looking for users who arrived at the airport on Monday mornings for business flights or dined in expensive restaurants... Census data is the model, Mr. Pentland said—detailed enough to have value, but not so detailed that individuals can be identified… In September, as Hurricane Florence churned toward the Carolina coast Thasos watched evacuation zones and found that in well-to-do census blocks, 65% of the people fled, while only 39% left poor areas. Such information could inform disaster response or infrastructure spending, yet it might also have commercial value. “You might look at that and say, ‘Gosh, I could price insurance differently,’ ” Mr. Pentland said.
Planet Money: Episode 755: The Phone At The End Of The World
In the late 2000s, Argentina was facing a slew of economic problems. The president was a charismatic populist with bold plans and the will to act. One of the things then-President Cristina Kirchner wanted to tackle: unemployment. So she set out to create manufacturing jobs in Argentina.
She made a rule in 2010 that if a company wanted to sell things in Argentina, they needed to make things in Argentina.
Some companies didn’t play ball. Even though Argentina was a big and lucrative market, Apple said, ‘we’ll just sit this one out, we just won’t sell iPhones in Argentina at all.’ Other companies, though, decided to give it a try — to set up entirely new production operations within Argentina. One of them was the company that made Blackberry, the most popular phone in the country at the time. Making the high tech phones would mean good jobs for thousands of people.
President Kirchner didn’t just demand the phones were made in Argentina. She wanted the phones made in a very particular place in Argentina, all the way at the southernmost tip of the country. The government decided that is where she said the jobs should be created.
Tierra del Fuego is home to penguins, grey skies and brutal winds. It’s the last stop for ships before making the final leg to Antarctica.
Today on the show, how a town at the ends of the earth wound up making Blackberry phones, and what happened to when a charismatic president launched a big plan to create jobs and boost manufacturing.
iPhones and Children Are a Toxic Pair, Say Two Big Apple Investors
Two activist shareholders want Apple to develop tools and research effects on young people of smartphone overuse and addiction
A leading activist investor and a pension fund are saying the smartphone maker needs to respond to what some see as a growing public-health crisis of youth phone addiction.
Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or Calstrs, which control about $2 billion of Apple shares, sent a letter to Apple on Saturday urging it to develop new software tools that would help parents control and limit phone use more easily and to study the impact of overuse on mental health... the investors believe that Apple’s highflying stock could be hurt in coming decades if it faces a backlash and that proactive moves could generate goodwill and keep consumers loyal to Apple brands... Jana and Calstrs are working with Jean M. Twenge of San Diego State University, who chronicled the problem of what she has dubbed the “iGen” in a book that was previewed in a widely discussed article in the Atlantic magazine last fall, and with Michael Rich of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, known as “the mediatrician” for his work on the impact of media on children.