According to research done by Google recently, there will be more web searches done on mobile phones than will be done on desktops by 2013. In more traditional markets like Australia and the US, a more standard progression in technology has seen the desktop become a feature of most households over the past 15 years. However in emerging markets such as India and China, access to desktop computers was limited during their expansion in the west and now instead of following the trend of western markets, consumers in these countries are skipping desktop computers and the fixed internet connection in preference of mobile devices. Across the world mobile internet usage has increased 3000% in the last three years, largely driven by the access that consumers in emerging economies have to these previously out of reach devices.
It seems only natural that research should take advantage of this shift in reliance on mobile internet usage. Whilst being able to contact a respondent at their desktop at any time at any place has always been one of the foundations of online research’s benefit over traditional methodologies, mobile research takes this one step further and allows us to interact with respondents in their natural surroundings whenever we want.
The convenience of being able to reach for our phones and access the Internet anywhere is something that should be jumped upon by researchers. The devil makes work for idle hands, so why not use time when sitting on a train, in front of the TV at home as a time to undertake research.
A company in New Zealand has done something very similar. After the devastating earthquake in Christchurch, the plumbing to houses has been significantly impacted and residents are having to make do with portaloos installed on street corners. In these portaloos, a firm has begun recruiting participants for research through adverts placed on the walls. Surveys asking for opinions about the reconstruction efforts are sent and in some cases completed whilst…umm…taking care of business.
Being constantly connected through Internet enabled phones presents such a strong opportunity for companies to get an immediate read on their consumers. To take advantage of even the shortest amount of downtime to complete research can easily be seized upon. Being able to get feedback in either a qualitative or quantitative study could potentially take hours, not days or weeks.