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Mobile Insights: what do people do with their phones?

by Sam Ladner on May 20, 2011 · 2 comments

in Blog, anthropology, culture, design, ethnography, home, market research, mobile, product design, qualitative research, sociology

I’m thrilled to be managing a research project on mobile technology use through a fellowship at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University. I’ve assembled a research team and we have started initial research. Our “ethnographic stretching” exercise lead to some interesting insights:

“Attachment Paradox”: More than one person we talked to said that their mobile phone meant nothing to them. “It’s just a device. There’s no attachment to it,” said one person. Yet, this same person said she’d “panic” if she lost it. How can they be anxious of its loss, yet “unattached” at the same time? Again, more work to be done here.

Check out some of the other insights on the Mobile Work Life project Web site

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Categories: Blog · anthropology · culture · design · ethnography · home · market research · mobile · product design · qualitative research · sociology

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Geoffrey Fojtasek May 20, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Perhaps there is more in the data that supports genuine paradox here, but I’m not surprised by the statements in this blurb. I take this person to mean that she has no attachment to her specific phone, and that panic would set in either from not having any phone at all or possibly from the potential misuse of personal data contained in her device by someone who might find it. Don’t people generally just take their phones for granted? Still, interesting work.


2 Sam Ladner May 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm

I think the paradox is in that they genuinely feel “the phone” means nothing to them. But “the phone” is actually not just a phone, but the data they store in the cloud. The data are largely invisible to them until “the phone” is lost. We’re looking forward to this idea that “the phone” is no longer a phone alone — it’s all the data that the phone uses. Interesting to see how this plays out.


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