Cell phone signal benchmarking has been pitched to VC's as a science but in reality gathering the data is all about social recommendations and user input in order to have scale. Bellevue, WA-based Root Wireless, a mobile app that analyze gathers signal strength for cellular devices and it is unclear how many users they have an in what areas. The company has raised $4M+ and is likely still seeking deals from Amazon Wireless, Radio Shack and Best Buy to validate their retail advisory business model. Their maps highly the performance of cellular networks and devices within an anecdotal period of time and uses this data to make recommendations for customers who will be purchasing products at retailers. After the Root Metrics recently raise of $900,000 as reported in January 2011 they have raised a total of $4M after their $3.25M series B round in 2009. Root Wireless formed a partnership last month with CBS Interactive to allow the tech news site CNET to post maps of cellular network strengths and weaknesses. The have no shortage of publicity calling them the "hottest company" by Lead 411" but is this credible? The company is also up for a CTIA Emerging Technology Award as well. Has this help them come even close to the amount of volunteer users we have on a daily basis?
I have some questions about their premise as a business. Much like the carrier maps its hard to discern what their signal strengths are actually telling me? Is it a dead zones, weak zone, drop call area, etc. Does the company have enough data in enough areas to make proper recommendations? Does signal strength even matter if you are in a complete dead zone? If you are in a building does this effect the signal mapping? What are retailers or consumers willing to pay for this feature? Isn't the real problem helping consumers in remote areas get any signal let alone 2 to 5 bars? There are far too many dead zones in the US for retailers and carriers to mapping signal strength in certain areas. Do their maps take into account rush hour versus driving around at 3am? How are they helping mobile users find access to WiFi which is going to be the standard for connectivity in the future?