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understanding cultural differences in the use of mobile phones

Understanding Cultural Differences in the Use of Mobile Phones

Sandra Hirsh

Microsoft

May 11, 2007

agenda
Agenda
  • Goals for understanding mobile cultural differences
  • What we studied and where
  • Mobile behaviors and culture
  • Mobile practices
  • Mobile phones of the future
  • Q & A

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

goals for understanding mobile cultural differences
Goals for understanding mobile cultural differences
  • Understand current mobile phone behaviors
  • Understand user expectations for mobile phones functionality and design
  • Understand future needs and desires for mobile phones

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

penetration of cell phones and internet by country
Penetration of cell phones and internet by country
  • Japan
    • Cell phone users: 94.745 million (2005)
    • Land line users: 58.78 million (2005)
    • Internet users: 86.3 million (2005)
  • China
    • Cell phone users: 437.48 million (2006)
    • Land line users: 350.433 million (2005)
    • Internet users: 123 million (2006)
  • USA
    • Cell phone users: 219.4 million (2005)
    • Land line users: 268 million (2003)
    • Internet users: 205.327 million (2005)

Source: CIA Factbook

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

what we studied and where
What we studied and where
  • Japan (October 2005)
    • 1 study, with 8 people, Tokyo
  • China (June 2006)
    • 2 studies, each with 8 people, Shanghai
  • US (February 2005-August 2006)
    • Series of studies, Bay Area

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

data collection techniques
Data collection techniques
  • Ethnographic interviews
  • Participatory design sessions
  • Usability of mobile prototypes and live applications (Wap2 and G2)
  • Content grouping studies
  • Visual design studies
  • Diary studies
  • Cultural observations

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

logistics for data collection
Logistics for data collection
  • Sessions were held in:
    • Usability labs
    • Conference rooms
  • Technologies to capture sessions:
    • Usability lab recording software
    • Morea software/equipment
    • Windows Mobile phones connected through Pocket Controller to PC to enable mobile phone screen capture
    • Cameras (digital, video)
  • International testing:
    • Local vendor conducts research sessions; vendor provided valuable cultural context and interpretation
    • Simultaneous translation
    • Similar protocols in each country, localized and contextualized to cultural context and research questions
    • Localized prototypes
    • Training vendors; templates provided

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

1 mobile behaviors and culture
1) Mobile behaviors and culture
  • Differences:
    • Style of phones
    • Atmosphere
    • Mental model for mobile services
    • Cultural influences
  • Similarities

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

differences style of phones
Differences: Style of phones
  • Japan
    • Decoration important
    • Small size important
  • China
    • Game-like
    • Big screens
    • Lots of memory important
  • US
    • Functional
    • Cost and service plan define first option set

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

phones in japan study
Phones in Japan Study

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

phones in japan study1
Phones in Japan Study

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

phones in china study
Phones in China Study

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

phones in u s studies
Phones in U.S. Studies

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

differences atmosphere
Differences: Atmosphere
  • Japan
    • infused with light
    • lots of sounds
    • rounded/bubbly shapes extends to the UI
  • China
    • earthy, browns and blacks
    • more calm activity wise
  • US
    • more techy looking (but in Silicon Valley)

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

japan infused with light rounded corners
Japan: infused with light;rounded corners

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

japan rounded shapes extend to the ui
Japan: rounded shapes extend to the UI

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

differences mental model for the service
Differences: Mental model for the service
  • Japan
    • based on the current design of phone and service (navigation, call history, route finders)
  • China
    • based on PC (Baidu, QQ)
  • US
    • more rooted in the basics (voice communication, address book, clock)

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

extra button for navigation japan
Extra button for navigation (Japan)

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

search informed by baidu china
Search informed by Baidu (China)

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

differences cultural influences
Differences: Cultural influences
  • Japan
    • Solving problems with email
    • Non-interruptive solutions
    • Every street corner had places to buy phones and phone bling
  • China
    • Thought about the context in which the service was used
    • Phone stores not as prominent
    • Gender
  • US
    • Phone as status symbol
    • Didn’t know what functions were available beyond their service
    • Phone stores not as prominent

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

japan phones are everywhere
Japan: Phones are everywhere

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

china context is important
China: Context is important

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

similarities
Similarities
  • Need to have with them all the time
    • “It is like my security blanket. If I did not have it, I could not get a hold of others.”
    • “It is my way of staying connected, on top of things, having control, getting things done. For all of these things, my cell phone is the gateway.”
  • Anxiety if the phone is lost or gets damaged
    • “If I lose my phone, I am in a lot of trouble” (because contact information was only in the phone)
    • “It is a big part of my life and keeps me in contact with everyone. It is like your wallet; pictures and credit cards and everything important is with me where ever I go. If I lost it, I don’t know how I would call all of my friends.”
  • Cost matters to everyone
    • “I thought I’d surf the web but the cost deters me from doing it. If it were free, I’d do it more.”
  • View as extension of their personal identity. Personalize both the UI, sounds, and exterior of phones.
    • Consistent task success and failure across countries for key tasks on all of the mobile products we studied

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

2 mobile phone practices
2) Mobile Phone Practices
  • Phone life span
  • Phone purchase
  • Schedules
  • Services most often used
  • Phone behavior

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

phone life span
Phone life span
  • Japan :: 13-24 months
  • China :: less than one year
  • US :: determined by service plans

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

phone purchase
Phone purchase
  • Japan
    • Cost of service package
    • Design and color
  • China
    • Brand
    • Design
    • Screen size
  • US
    • Service plan

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

schedules
Schedules
  • Japan
    • Little SMS (2 of 8 reported ever doing it)
    • Commute focused on email
    • GPS on the commute (the train routes)
    • Little or no IM on the phone
  • China
    • Phone IM used mostly in the day; SMS used a lot in day 10-50 messages per day (rarely in evening)
    • Phone camera in afternoon
    • Like to play music and games on the commute (Video)
    • PC, mail, internet, messenger used throughout the day
  • US
    • SMS all day and night (2am)
    • Commute – phone/voice
    • Little or no IM on the phone

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

china schedules
China Schedules

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

services most often used
Services most often used
  • Japan
    • Email, email, email…
    • Many participants used Route Search service (doing destination searches)
    • Weather, shopping and auctions, restaurant search, 3 of 8 already using Infrared
  • China
    • Text messaging (including color)
    • Downloading
    • Music
    • Games
  • US
    • Voice
    • Text messaging
      • “Friends are bad about answering the phone but they will answer text.”
      • “Text for me is unlimited so I don’t know why I would use IM.”
    • Mobile internet (for ringtones and pictures)
    • Basic phone features: Clock, alarm, contact list, etc.
      • “The most essential information on my phone is my phone numbers.”
    • Camera on phone

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

phone behavior
Phone behavior
  • Japan
    • Keep phone on silent, manners mode, don’t answer phone when with others
    • Japan personalizes phones on the outside and with ringtones
  • China
    • Phone interrupts their day
    • Personalize with wallpaper, ringtones, and screen savers
    • Add their own images for contacts
  • US
    • Phone interrupts their day
    • Personalize with ringtones and photos
    • Keep multiple phones, each with a different purpose (one for work, one for going out)

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

3 mobile phones of the future
3) Mobile phones of the future
  • Asked users to draw their ideas for mobile phones of the future in Participatory Design (China, US)
  • Asked interview questions (Japan, China, US)

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

dreams for the future
Dreams for the future
  • Japan
    • more advanced; our futuristic stuff was the basics for them
    • want smaller and combined with other things like watch, glasses, etc…
  • China
    • entertainment focused
    • blue tooth/wireless/infrared/connectivity
    • focused on the hardware (made comments about the hardware – like bigger screens to enable)
  • US
    • asked for things that already existed, like history of text messages, syncing with PC (e.g., for address book)

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

china mobile of the future participatory design
China Mobile of the Future Participatory Design
  • Killing time – future ideas
    • Most frequent ideas:
      • Video and movies, games, music, video chat
    • Additional ideas:
      • Bigger screens and higher resolutions
      • Phone as remote control/walkie talkie

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

conclusions
Conclusions
  • Important to ensure that products will be adopted beyond the US. Series of research studies were performed in Japan, China, and US
  • Found similarities and differences across cultures for user mobile needs, behaviors, and future expectations/desires.
    • Similarities: importance of the phone, extension of self, concern about costs.
    • Differences: mental models, services used, cultural influences and norms.
  • Cultural research and insights were used to inform mobile internet products in terms of:
    • Visual design
    • Navigation framework and UI
    • Language/Localization
    • Feature development

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

questions
Questions?

For more information:

Sandy Hirsh, Microsoft

Windows Live Web Communications UX

[email protected]

Cultural Differences in Mobile Phones Microsoft

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