For those of us in the industry, we have been talking about mobile research for years. We have seen it coming like a big freighter in the distance; unsure of its exact arrival date but quite sure that it was growing bigger and getting closer. Occasionally, we wondered if the vast horizon was playing tricks but now we can see the ship isn’t freighter but cruise liner. Make no mistake – mobile has arrived. The arrival of mobile is similar to the arrival of online research; it took a while to ripen but once the elements started aligning it suddenly appeared.
Touch screen smartphones precipitated the tipping point. The usability they offer has changed the way people perceive and use their mobile devices. Even though Apple wasn’t the first manufacturer with a touch screen device, the revered iphone was the first to create a user experience that exploded sales of the device. Without getting into the debate of which manufacturers do it better or worse, they all have touch screen smartphones with better screen size and usability than the previous iterations of smartphone devices. The larger screen size and usability enabled people to have an enjoyable and convenient web browsing experience on their mobile devices. This created and embedded the mobile browsing behaviour that is enabling us to ask people to do research on their mobile devices. It is possible to do everything else on mobile devices (email, banking, Facebook), so why not surveys? The critical mass of smartphones within the market takes mobile research from a niche approach to a mainstream approach.
Here is a link to some stats on smartphones sales and penetration. These statistics are constantly being updated and in some cases are not completely aligned but the story is the same – masses of smartphones are being manufactured, shipped and sold all over the world. It is not going to stop. The wave of devices is spreading across the world like a tsunami.
So the question isn’t ”Should I do mobile research?” but ”How do I conduct good mobile research?”.