I’ve been searching for data or case studies on the use of mobile devices in qualitative research and, alas, there’s not much information out there at the moment. A lot of the studies on using mobile devices in market research relate to SMS or survey data capture. Vision Critical has conducted a mobile research study which provides some good insights on quantitative mobile research, but only eludes to the differences in qualitative responses.
But maybe that’s good for us, because we’re about to start a test community amongst iPhone users, that will both provide insights on the iPhone, and how smartphones can be used in online research communities. Given that, according to Morgan Stanley, the iPhone/iTouch has been adopted faster than any other consumer technology device in history, the research industry can’t afford to ignore smartphones when it comes to engaging people in text based conversations. You can wade through the reams of juicy data on mobile internet from Morgan Stanley here.
Of course, there’s nothing new about using mobiles for social networking. The Facebook app does happen to be the world’s most downloaded free iPhone app. So if people are already chatting and connecting via mobile devices within these social networks, why not with us researchers via our online communities?
Time will tell…but there’s a clear need for researchers to be able to keep up with our clients who are developing branded applications as another way to reach their customers. It’s about going to where thepeople are, not bringing them to us for sandwiches and a chat around a table.
So keep an eye out for updates on the iPhone community and the outcomes. We’ll be sharing our findings in coming months.