IQOS has seen resounding success, reaching a substantial market among smokers, but it seems the device may have a trick up its sleeve… Phillip Morris have been accused of using their market-leading product to spy on consumers.
Reuters press agency recently reported on this issue, demanding explanations from the company regarding data recorded by IQOS. The journalist’s article was based on a patent, filed by Phillip Morris in 2009, for a data collection and transfer system.
To ensure they had all the evidence required to make such an accusation, Reuters called on TechInsights Inc. to break down an IQOS device. The technicians discovered two electronic chips that were designed to record user activity. Of course, that was all it took for the Reuters journalist to cry Big Brother is Watching You!
For each IQOS sold, Phillip Morris collects data on the number of hits, or the average use over a typical day. While this data may seem minor, even harmless, to many users it is anything but. Many believe that the data may be used for commercial means, inciting users to buy more products the company has calculated to be more suited to their usage.
Data collection to ensure IQOS devices are being used correctly
Phillip Morris was quick to deny the accusations, highlighting user safety rather than secret data collection to design targeted advertising. The tobacco giant wants to know how their devices are being used in the real world.
Moira Gilchrist, vice-president of the scientific and public relations department at PMI, stated that data collection was in no way destined to manipulate consumers. On the contrary, the whole idea is to protect users in case of any device malfunction or anomaly.
It appears that Phillip Morris uses this data in rare cases only, such as when a malfunction requires clarification of the conditions of occurence, to avoid it happening again. Their goal is to improve the quality of the product, to ensure they are durable and safe to all consumers worldwide.