Friday, April 04, 2008

Phone in shirt pocket? Must be an Indian

Phone in shirt pocket? Must be an Indian - Anand Parthasarathy ( THE HINDU)

Singapore: Six out of ten male owners of mobile phones worldwide, carry them in their trouser pockets — and the same proportion of women use a hand bag or purse. But there are interesting regional and cultural variations –— and the world biggest maker of mobiles has an entire team of anthropologists, sociologists and human behaviour experts to study how people around the world communicate with each other, so that the devices it makes can suit the tastes and trends in different geographies.

You carry your phone in a belt pouch? Then you can’t be Japanese. They just hate to be seen doing that. But older, less fashionable users in many countries can be still seen securing their phones that way. In Delhi 11 percent of phone carriers use a strap of some kind to secure their phones.

Three of ten men who use their pant pockets and half of all women who use a hand bag, tend to miss some calls because they can’t get their phones out fast enough. The men in some parts of India — mostly in the south, fare better. Why? Because they tend to use their shirt pocket to carry their phones and are therefore “faster on the draw.” And why the shirt pocket?, because they are probably wearing a dhoti or ‘mundu’ and have no other convenient receptacle! In fact the study team recommended that the message alert light should be placed on the top surface of the phone so that it will be seen more easily by such users.

Insights like these have emerged from regional studies conducted by the Finland-based Nokia’s human behavioural unit of its Design Team. Jan Chipchase, a member of the team who spoke to The Hindu on the sidelines of the compan y’s annual showcase of new products and technologies which concluded here on Wednesday, will be in Mumbai next week to lead its latest research exercise ... to understand how residents in shanty towns such as Dharavi, manage their communication needs and in what way a mobile phone maker can help them.

Nokia’s specially designed, ‘made for India,’ phones such as the N 1100, were created in response to lessons from such studies on the subcontinent, Mr. Chipchase said.

The phone, which had special dust proofing and came with a built-in torch, answered customer wish lists in India.

Nokia studies also revealed Indian customers’ urge to protect their phones from extra wear and tear — by enclosing them in plastic covers. In fact the company was surprised to see that even customers who paid premium prices to acquire ultra thin models then sacrificed the advantage by encasing the hand set in a thick case.

This also grew out of Indian inclination to trade the phone when they bought a better model --— rather than throwing or giving it away.

The need in fast growing, developing markets such as India for 2-3 users in a family to share a phone also prompted Nokia to introduce models such as the 12000 and 1208 with multiple address books.

What next? The behavioural team is looking ahead, 10 to 15 years from now, to try and second guess human trends.

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