Mobile

Location Labs’ secret to reaching 50M installs: Give carriers mobile security features to call their own

Image Credit: Location Labs
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You probably don’t know the name Location Labs — and the company wouldn’t have it any other way.

A provider of mobile security and safety offerings, Location Labs focuses more on getting carriers to adopt its services with their own branding than on promoting its own name. That strategy has led the company to rack up more than 50 million installs for its safety offerings, with more than 1 million paying monthly subscribers.

“Our philosophy differs a bit from some of the heavily funded antivirus companies,” said Location Labs founder and CEO Tasso Roumeliotis in an interview with VentureBeat. “If you try to build your own direct-to-consumer brand name and try to distribute through the carrier, your relationship can be at arms length.”

The company powers security services for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon in the U.S., as well as Telefonica internationally. You could very well be subscribed to its service right now without even knowing it.

Location Labs’ “Sparkle” security platform offers features like mobile analytics (to see what’s really using up your family’s mobile data), and the ability to control granular features across devices (like turning off mobile data when your teenager is grounded). It also offers location tracking features for multiple devices, as well as safe driving modes.

The company’s offerings are particularly useful for families, since it’s hard to keep track of and control mobile usage across several devices.

Location Labs previously focused on offering location data to developers, but the company has since pivoted to security services. Its early work hasn’t gone to waste, though. Location Labs is unique in its ability to offer very granular controls over specific devices, giving you more flexibility for managing your family’s devices. That’s only possible because it’s integrated deeply into carrier networks.

So, for example, a parent could use their phone to remotely kill texting and mobile data capabilities from any phone in their family. Without a service like Location Labs’, there’s no easy way for parents to manage their family’s phones without tweaking settings on individual devices. (And even then, many kids are smart enough to reenable specific features.)

Pricing for Location Labs’ services is up to the carriers, but at this point Roumeliotis tells me it ranges from $5 to $15 a month. From our conversation, it sounded like he thinks $5 is the ideal price point — it’s cheap enough for you to sign up without questioning it much, and it’s also not that big of an impact on your monthly bill.

San Francisco-based Location Labs has raised $26 million so far, but Roumeliotis is quick to point out that it hasn’t taken funding since 2007 and has been profitable since 2008. By the end of the year, Location Labs expects to see a 50 percent subscriber jump compared to last year, and it expects to double its number of paid subscribers in 2014.

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