How to get the most out of a mobile phone
By Eva Barkeman, Fortune Magazine

(Fortune Magazine) -- The postman didn't ring twice - he rang dozens of times. And thanks to a new technology developed by Swedish company Micro Systemation, a British postman who stole credit cards from the mail and used them to order goods over the Internet is now behind bars.

"We found text messages with credit card details sent to South Africa," says Ian Herbert, a detective in Birmingham, whose police force examines about 500 phones a month using Micro Systemation's XRY, which retrieves information from mobile phones. The hockey-puck-shaped device, developed in collaboration with Swedish police and first marketed last year, sells for about $6,000.

"Until now, investigators have had to spend a vast amount of time searching through seized telephones manually," says CEO Joel Bollö. Revenues at the company more than doubled last year, he says, to $1.7 million.

The trick is not only extracting information quickly without destroying it but gathering the data in a single file easily accessible on a computer. There are other companies that make similar products, but the XRY has been more successful because it works with 300 models, covering 90% of all confiscated phones in Europe and the Middle East.

When a phone is plugged into the device, everything from its phone book to SMS traffic, from pictures to sound files - in some cases even deleted messages--can be read and saved within a few minutes. "Just imagine how a robbery, a rape, or planned terrorism can be tracked down," says Bollö. Law-enforcement agencies seem to be queuing up, most recently the UN and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  Top of page