It should come as no surprise to hear that Google
, a search company, has morphed into an advertising company. And what marketers really, really covet is your location and buying habits, amongst other personal details that help them best target you at the precise moment in which you'd be likely to pull the trigger on a purchase. By extension, Google's likely to start using Android (and Google Wallet, which is also available on iPhone) to act as a tracking method for your purchases. Granted, there's consumer up-side: by enabling Google to track purchases, Google can funnel coupons and other great deals directly to you. It's very possible for the scenario to be win-win, but privacy advocates are still a bit shaky on what it all means.
A new report suggests that Google is beta testing an initiative that "uses smartphone location data to determine when consumers visit stores." After that, Google can connect the visits to searches completed on one's smartphone and then draw links that marketers could use to target ads. While this may sound a bit invasive, Google's not trying to completely hose the end-user. In one example, we're told the following: "If someone conducts a Google mobile search for “screwdrivers,” for instance, a local hardware store could bid to have its store listing served to that user. By pairing that person’s location data with its database of store listings, Google can see if the person who saw that ad subsequently visited the store."
So long as applicable deals come our way when we need 'em, we aren't too concerned about the advertising implications. Google is well aware that trust with its users is paramount, and if it ever crosses the line, it'll have an NSA-level scandal of its own to deal with -- which you can bet it has no interest in burning resources on