The problem with Carrier IQ is that carriers are so blasé about cradle-to-grave elimination of privacy it never occurred to any of them to mention to customers they were including monitoring software that looks so much like spyware the only actual difference is the purpose for which the data are used.
The problem isn't how the tool is made but in how it is used
Carriers are the ones who collect location data, usage data, personal demographics and assemble them into profiles.
Carriers are the ones who denied the software existed, denied using the data, denied paying Carrier IQ and denied knowing anything at all about customers except the depth of love they feel for each and every customer from the bottom of their darkly amorphous corporate hearts.
Carriers are the ones so eager to cooperate with government requests for private personal data such as call logs the feds don't always even have to complete the minimal paperwork required to get it.
They're also the ones who, apparently, have been allowing the FBI to skim what information it likes from Carrier IQ agents on customer smartphones as part of surveillance operations. The FBI refuses to say anything about either Carrier IQ or what information it's after because the activity has something to do with investigating law breakers – unlike every other thing the FBI does in the public sphere or in its interest, one presumes.
So, yeah, Carrier IQ's protests that everyone has it wrong, that it's not a spyware company, it's just misunderstood, is accurate to a point.
Of course it's a spyware company. That's what its main product does – and extremely well, even for very large populations of users, judging by the uses to which carriers put it.
Even Eric Schmidt, top operative at the company that gathers more routinely privacy compromising data on end users than any other – said Carrier IQ is a keylogger.