Jan 142014
Navin Headshot Square

Posted by Navin Wlliams, CEO MobileMeasure Consultancy Ltd, Shanghai, China.

Editors note: Navin is known as a leading expert of mobile market research and has been posting his forecasts for a few years and kindly shared his 2014 forecast with us.

2013 was a year of consolidation of the market in the mobile space. With Android settling into its leadership position and Apple’s iOS having a relatively good year too. The other operating systems have largely fallen by the wayside. With mobile finally settling the fight with online and finally being recognized as a tour de force too, it’s a good time to put on my soothsayer hat and share my vision of how 2014 is going to pan out.

OS sales shares

Source: Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, via CNET: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57616679-37/iphone-market-share-shrinks-as-android-windows-phone-grow/

Winner Takes All – Android

In last year’s post I talked about Android dominating the mobile landscape and eventually by getting prices down to a sub US$100 mark make analysts relook at the Feature phone and Smartphone definition by the end of 2013. This has not really happened as we still have these definitions widely in use. However no one is obsessing over these definitions as it is well recognized that the formerly dominant Feature phones are a dying breed. From a competing set point of view the only recognized feature phone is Nokia’s S40 series which are now restricted to just the existing installed base, can only lose from here on as Nokia by adopting and then being sold to Microsoft becomes a Windows phone led platform. Other than the S-40 feature phones, the other feature phones in the market, dominated by the proprietary systems built by Chinese manufacturers disappeared overnight as they didn’t need to develop their own OS to save license costs, but could adopt an established OS in the form of the Android. So not only did Android eat into shrinking Nokia OS share, but the other feature phone OSs and the other dying OSs like Blackberry as well.

Android closed 2012 as the No. 1 player and in 2013 they helped grow the Phablet phenomena. And though in 2013 the Android Tablet share did grow, it’s their Phablets that got much more airplay. In 2014 expect to see Android phablets to dominate the landscape and in turn help them grow the share of Android Tablets as well.

Too Big to Fail Still ? – Apple & iOS

Considering the market dynamics in 2013, Apple and its iOS did admirably well. They didn’t :

  • grow their screen size significantly;
  • deliver a true low cost phone to take on the bottom half of the mobile handset pyramid;
  • come up with any serious ground breaking innovations.
Screen size: Apple has long maintained that the size of their screen was optimum and anything bigger will get too big to handle. They did however reduce the frame area and grow the screen diagonally larger. This however paled in comparison with the competing phone manufacturers churning out significantly larger screens and bringing to the fore a whole new category in “Phablets”.

Low Cost Phone: to be fair, Apple did bring out the 5C, which is US$649, which for most of the world is not exactly “C for Cheap” and still keeps it in the premium smart phone bracket. This phone though did not set the market on fire, it definitely went a long way in keep its Smartphone share up.

Innovation: Apple built its persona around product innovation, however in 2013 we haven’t seen much of it. Though wearable technology which syncs to your iphone has been talked about for a while now, the iwatch never materialized.

In 2012, Apple was a dominant force in the Smartphone market, in 2013 they fought valiantly and maintained their position in key markets but also lost share to a rampaging Android in 2013. In 2014, they will have to address all three issues of Screen size, Low Cost and Innovation or will it be the year that they lose a lot of the shine they have built around themselves. Will Apple play by the conventional rules or look to reinvent themselves and the industry as they often have in the past?

Mend and Grow year – Nokia & Windows Mobile

While 2013 was labeled as the make or break year for Nokia and Windows, 2014 is going to be mend and grow. If you take away the declining numbers of the final years of Nokia and look only at Windows as a Greenfield entry they have done admirably well in 2013. With the buying out of Nokia by Microsoft, it becomes the second non hardware technology company after Google –Motorola to enter the mobile hardware arena.

Though currently in the Smartphone market, Windows has done admirably well by being the third player often edging out Blackberry or a close forth behind Blackberry. 2014 is when we can truly evaluate its performance. In 2014 we can expect a flurry of launches of new models at multiple price points and screen sizes. Coupled with the formidable marketing arm of Microsoft and the former Nokia teams, expect them to at least double their market share across markets.

The New King – Samsung

A couple of years ago, Samsung was the challenger. Today, they are dominating the manufacturer’s sweepstakes trying to keep the other manufacturers at bay. After having introduced the Phablet with the Note phone series, they have grown the category exponentially and dominated it as well. In 2013 they showed that they are not just riding on Android and large screens to dominate the market place. They introduced the Galaxy Gear which included a watch phone with the top end Samsung Galaxy phones purchased. The much talked about iWatch in the blogsphere seems to have been missed by Apple and was picked up and dished out by Samsung instead. So Samsung is looking to take the lead in the innovation stakes to create a persona all its own. The Samsung Galaxy gear smart watch may turn out to be more of an interesting gimmick than a serious utility tool, but it’s too early to call.

In 2014 we can expect Samsung to continue to dominate the Smartphones especially the Phablets, larger screens and with their Galaxy Gear added to their arsenal, they also have a serious differentiator. On the not so bright side, of all the manufacturers Samsung has the most to lose as they like Nokia before them play across the price and product spectrum. They should have a tough year but hold onto their leadership position.

The Dead Dead – Blackberry

The highlight of 2013 for BB was the announcement of its all new Blackberry 10 OS which was delayed constantly and when it finally got launched was a little to late and didn’t introduce anything innovative to retain anyone’s attention. So from living dead to dead dead, is where BB finds itself.

Though to be fair to them they still have a large corporate business stuck at the hip and for many of these corporates wanting to migrate their secure mobile systems moving to another system is a tough choice. Something like self-amputation vs. rebuilding the Pyramids – both tough decisions. Many have bitten the bullet and others are still building plans. So there’s still an opportunity for BB to revive itself.

Out of the Shadows – Made in China

If we saw the Chinese manufacturers coming of age in 2013, expect 2014 to be their graduation party. The biggest impact is going to be from the Chinese manufacturers with the likes of Huawei, Lenovo and ZTE all making both affordable and top end Smartphones for the global market. Taiwanese manufacturer HTC is a fallen star hoping to revive their fortunes. And there are the Indian manufacturers who until now were content with the Indian market are getting ambitious and looking for foreign shores as well.

Expect at least 2-3 of the top 5 manufacturers to be Chinese manufacturers in 2014. It would be pretty safe to assume all 5 will be “made in China”.

Market Research and Mobile Market Research

Accidents Happen: If 2012 was for probing and experimenting, 2013 saw the term accidental mobile research being coined. Accidental mobile research is research which takes place from a mobile phone but is meant to happen online. And enough of these accidents happened for online survey providers to take notice and tweak their online surveys to identify if a user was indeed trying to fill out the survey from a mobile phone and therefore should see a more mobile friendly mobile rendered survey. However this did not really help as these may have been rendered for mobile but were not designed for mobile. They were designed for online and force fed on mobile, though it was within the confines and legible on the mobile screen. This is borne out of the bench mark tests done across online survey providers showing a consistent pattern of mobile exceeding online survey completion times by 50%. So while this number makes me very unhappy, from an industry point of view maybe it’s a point to rejoice as it’s a step ahead from “mobile is too small” to acknowledging that surveys need to be rendered appropriately for the mobile phone. In 2014, expect to see surveys designs to be mobile specific. A question is asked, which is answered via a drag and drop online, while the same question is answered using taps and selections on mobile enabling the times to be close or match when done either on the mobile or online by the survey respondent.

More Than a Talking Point: I was recently at a Qualitative conference (not a Mobile Market Research Conference) in Singapore and I noticed that only 2 speakers in the entire 2 days could get through without referring to Mobile in their presentations. Many like myself, presented specific mobile cases and examples. I actually spoke on the first day and a lot of what I was presenting was mentioned or covered before I came into speak later in the day. And often on most conferences I speak at, either I am the lone speaker (or niche) on a mobile topic be it a mobile or any other Research conference. Expect more informed discussion on the same in 2014.

Norms: One of the biggest barriers to entry often for research products and services is norms. Expect this to be re-evaluated across providers, as mobile is another animal. We will get different results as the context for mobile data makes the data different. So it’s not that the consumer is lying or the world has changed so much, just that mobile can contextualize a survey and give results that also differ. For instance when we do a pantry check survey on mobile, we request they go to the pantry and upload a picture as well and then fill the survey giving added insights from the mobile picture as well. The same survey done online though it had the option to take a photo and upload, no one did it as it was too cumbersome. Most in fact didn’t even visit the pantry and reported on memory. So eventually at the broad level (key brands) we got the same results, however it was the things that got left out in the responses of the online survey were the most revealing in the study. One of the additional insights was that some product packaging (like cereal boxes) was too big for standard pantries of the target group we were seeing a lot of when conducting the research.

Wearable Tech: 2013 saw Google Glass and other wearable tech like Samsung Galaxy Gear Smart Watch make headlines and showcased across the world. In 2014 expect both these technologies and other similar ones to penetrate more and more lives of consumers. As researchers we will get a ring side seat to the numerous market research applications and how the smartest (or fools) of us dives into it to extract the insightful gems that we all seek.

Messaging Apps: SMS is in decline, that was the big story of 2013. This came as Messaging Apps like WeChat and WhatsApp thrived. Though WhatsApp was the pioneer, it has taken a back seat to the innovative copy cat being WeChat. Not only did WeChat copy WhatsApp (or can you call building another messaging app as truly copying?), either way they didn’t stop there. They made it bigger and better, growing to 700+ million globally at last count. In 2014, expect more and more market researchers to dive in enhance the power of market research via mobile messaging Apps.

And finally a word of advice …

Youth: While the benefit of grey cells is never in doubt, especially in a knowledge industry like market research. In Mobile Market Research youth is a huge scoring point, with even non technical kids wield a mobile like it were putty in their hands. In 2014, go engage and learn from the young who are using the mobile intuitively as an extension of themselves and not as a device to be used – it’s part of them.

Go forth and mobilize. Enjoy your 2014!

Navin has close to two decades of experience spread across Market Research, Technology, Media & Telecom sectors. Having worked with the top global agencies spread over 4 countries and 2 continents; he’s had the opportunity to be part of MR technological adoptions over the years in diverse developing environments. Navin has spent the better part of the last decade on new media technology and his quest to drive Mobile adoption in Market Research led him to form MOBILEMEASURE CONSULTANCY.

A pioneer in mobile enabled MR, Navin is widely regarded as a thought-leader in the evolution of digital technology in MR, he has written a number of Whitepapers and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. Recently he was involved in the designing and writing of the curriculum for University of Georgia’s Mobile Marketing Research course and is currently working on a book on Mobile MR.

Navin is based in Shanghai, China with his wife and two Children. He can be reached at navin@mobile-measure.com


Jan 072014

As part of the book on mobile market research that Sue York, Navin Williams and I are writing we need to give an overview of mobile qual, before going into depth. Do you think the image below helps?


  • What are we missing?
  • What would you change?
  • What about the titles for the segments?

By WE-research we mean projects where participants are recruited to capture a variety of qualitative data about their lives. They might be asked to capture images of waste, or videos of travel problems, or audio comments about the school run, for example. The term WE-research was introduced by Mark Earls and John Kearnon a few years ago. But, do you have a better term for this type of research?

We are planning on three chapters on qualitative research, indeed we have written three chapters, an overview which covers all four segments above, followed by chapters specifically on the top two segments. Our view on techniques like passive tracking, Google Glass etc is that there is simply not enough material yet to have a chapter on it, there is too little experience around.

If you’d like to help by reviewing one or more of these three chapters, please email ray.poynter@thefutureplace.com – we’ll acknowledge you contribution in the book :-)

Jan 012014

Ray Poynter, Navin Williams, and Sue York are writing a book on mobile market research, which will be published in August/September by Wiley, with the support of ESOMAR. The book has been provisionally titled, The Handbook of Mobile Market Research, and is a companion to The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research.

Are you or one of your colleagues, or your organisation, interested in helping us in any of the following ways?

  1. 1. Reviewing one or more chapters and letting us have your thoughts and suggestions?
  2. 2. Supplying case studies or Research on Research to help illustrate points in the book? Ideally, material that has already been published on your website, at a conference, or in articles.

We will, of course, fully cite and credit any help you and your organisation are able to offer.

Timelines are horrendous, of course! We’ve finished the first draft of the book and sent it to the publisher. This draft is very rough, if you have a look at any of the chapters you will spot errors and notes to ourselves in the text. The final text is being sent to the publisher 31st January, so we’d need any feedback or help before then.

So, if you are able to help, please email ray.poynter@thefutureplace.com and tell me which draft chapters you’d like us to send you. You are welcome to ask for as many or as few as possible. In doing so you are of course agreeing to not make these draft chapters widely available, as they are the copyright of Wiley, the publisher.

The chapters are: (the titles will change a bit)

Dec 092013

In collaboration with other authors we have produced an initial draft of the chapter on Mobile Market Research, for the ESOMAR book Answers to Contemporary Market Research Questions, and we are seeking feedback.

The video below shows Sue York’s presentation at the recent NewMR Training Day and you can download a PDF of the current draft. Remember, the Contemporary Answers book is intended for people new to research or new to a topic – it is not supposed to be the definitive or comprehensive answer.

We have already received some feedback (following the Training Day), but we’d love to hear more. So, please add your comments to this post using the comments facility. The mobile chapter, along with new chapters on International Research and Polling will be added in 2014.


Jul 172013

Following the discussion on tablets in mobile market research, this post addresses the wider issue of why somebody would want to conduct a study that is mobile only.

Having spoken to a wide cross section of clients and researcher, typical reasons for a mobile only study seem to include:

  1. Because the data needs to be collected, or is better if collected, ‘in the moment’. Where ‘in the moment’ typically means as people are making a decision, whilst using something, or immediately after using something.
  2. To collect passive data, as people go about their everyday lives.
  3. Because mobile gives a more appropriate sample than other similar methods. For example, in a country where 80% of economically active adults have a phone and 50% have internet access, mobile can provide the better sample.
  4. In order to change CAPI to mCAPI, re-energising CAPI.
  5. To add items like photos and videos to traditional survey responses.
  6. Where the mobile device can assist or improve data logging and collection.
  7. Research on the mobile ecosystem, for example of mobile advertising and campaigns.
  8. To research mobile data collection, part of what researchers call RoR, research-on-research.

Another example of point 3, a more appropriate sample, is provided by French company ELIPSS who have created a panel of people, selected via random probability, to whom they have given an internet connected tablet, creating a sample source that is both internet enabled and broadly representative of the group they are seeking to represent.

Two items which are currently not on the list are a) to be cheaper, b) to be faster. This may change in the future and faster and perhaps cheaper could become drivers of mobile usage. But here is why we don’t see them as drivers at the moment

There is doubt that mobile will be cheaper than online surveys in the foreseeable future for like-for-like surveys. The cost of programming a study for online and mobile is, at its best, the same. Testing for online and mobile is, at its best, the same. Incentives, are at their best, the same. And, the processing costs are typically the same. In fact, at the moment, mobile studies typically cost more to program and test since there are more contingencies to consider and to deal with.

However, if the desire to use mobile drives researchers to use shorter surveys, the net effect could be cheaper studies – as well as better and faster.

Faster is a plausible benefit for mobile, although this is a matter of degree. When online research, coupled with online access panels, burst on the scene, one of the key benefits was speed, days instead of weeks. In terms of mobile the speed difference for data collection is likely to be hours instead of days. However, this does not mean that most project turnarounds will reduce by the same factor. A project includes, design, scripting (the writing and testing of the survey), the fieldwork, and the analysis. Reducing the fieldwork from, say, 48 hours to 4 hours might reduce a project from five days to four days – good, but only crucial sometimes.

However, mobile data collection may come into its own when researchers start requesting, near, instant results. Consider the launch of a campaign, or assessing an open-air event, or dealing with the impact of a product disaster like a recall, a mobile survey could be sent out within minutes and a broad, cross-section of people could reply within minutes, potentially allowing real-time management of the campaign, event, or news.

In many cases there are methodological reasons to want the fieldwork to last at least 24 hours, and potentially longer. Different times of day attract different sorts of respondents. Researchers have reported that responses in the morning can be different from responses collected in the evening, and quite often that the first third of responses are different from the last third – although this may be due to more than just speed as the last third is often the part of a sample where there is a struggle to fill quotas – i.e. the last third are often demographically different from the first third.

Big shout of thanks to Frankie Johnson for highlighting mCAPI in relation to the previous post, and to Gerry Nicolaas for bring Elipss to my attention.

So, what are your thoughts? Would you make any major additions, deletions, or amendments to our list? Are you aware of interesting examples of people doing some of the less common alternatives?

Jun 062013

I am involved in a new book, which we hope will be published early in 2014. As with The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research, I will be sharing the project with the #NewMR community and would hope to receive as much help and support as I received last time (all those who contributed are listed in the book).

We should be able to publicise the publisher and the team shortly (final negotiations are taking place at the moment).

The book will be informed by the work I have done with Navin William and Reg Baker to create a mobile marketing research course for the University of Georgia’s Principles of Marketing Research course – which will be available shortly.

The first question
So, here is our first question to the market research community. What are the key debates about mobile market research?

My feeling is that the key debates in mobile market research are:

  1. How do clients move 20 to 30 minute tracking studies onto mobile devices?
  2. Closely followed by, what is the maximum length of a mobile interview?
  3. What sorts of techniques can’t be completed on a phone?
  4. Closely followed, by how do we adapt techniques that don’t work on a phone?
  5. Does the rise of smartphones mean we can ignore feature phones?
  6. Will the rise of tablets mean we don’t need to worry about phones?
  7. How does data from smartphone surveys compare with surveys conducted on PC, or F2F, or telephone?
  8. Can researchers deal with the differences in phones and operating systems?
  9. What is the right balance of web versus app?
  10. Where will the samples come from?
  11. CATI replaced much of F2F, online replaced much of CATI and F2F, what will mobile research replace?
  12. How will mobile change the world of qualitative research?
  13. How will mobile change the world of quantitative research?
  14. Will the legislators prevent mobile market research, and what aspects are most at risk?
  15. What are the ethical challenges?
  16. How do clients assess one option against another?
  17. Will mobile every be cheaper than online for mainstream surveys?

I’d love to hear your views and thoughts? Are these the key debates? What would you drop from this list? What would you add to the list?

Apr 132013

As mentioned before (here and here), Navin William, Reg Baker, and I are producing a mobile marketing research module for the University of Georgia’s Principles of Marketing Research course. I have bounced some ideas off the readers of this blog, and here is another topic where I’d love to hear your views.

Some of the most interesting work, to date, in terms of MMR (mobile market research) has been in the area of qualitative research and this is a key point for students of MMR to be aware of.

The key areas of qualitative MMR:
My feeling is that the key uses of mobile in qualitative research are:

  1. Smartphone Ethnography, recruiting participants to capture slices of the own lives and the lives of people around them to produce ethnographic data and in some cases to engage citizens in mass or auto ethnography.
  2. Mobile blogging, where participants use their mobile device (which can be as basic as SMS) to record or comment on some aspect of their lives. This can also include asking the participants to record their own vox pops.
  3. Mobile focus groups, where participants can use a mobile device to take part in focus groups. At one extreme this means voice only, at the other end it can mean using a web-enabled tablet to show all the participants on the screen, with full audio-visual connectivity.
  4. Discussions, allowing participants to take part in asynchronous discussions from their mobile devices, typically via internet access.
  5. Homework, where the participant is sent tasks via their mobile device, often in advance of a discussion, and often including the participants using their mobile devices to capture artefacts (e.g. pictures of your pantry).
  6. Tracking, where a small number of participants agree to be tracked for a period of time, for example 24 hours or a week, and the researcher uses the participant’s mobile device (typically a smartphone) to record some or all of: location, internet usage, voice calls, when and how the phone used (e.g. to check time of day), who the phone contacted (e.g. Bluetooth and WiFi), and much more. Qualitative tracking is based on looking in-depth at traces, often in conjunction with the participant themselves to gain insight into what is revealed by the data.
  7. As a tool in a qualitative session, for example tablets can be used in focus groups or in a one-on-one interviews, to show images and video, and to allow the participant to access materials and respond, for example by sorting items or creating pictures.

In addition, mobile devices are used to organise and coordinate qualitative activities, ensuring people receive instructions, helping them find locations, and generally communicating with participants. Also, mobile devices are often used with insight communities as part of the overall method of communication with members, for qual, quant, and administrative purposes.

What do you think? Have I missed some important areas? Are some of my items marginal?

Mar 172013

As I have mentioned before, Navin Williams, Reg Baker, and I are producing a course on mobile marketing research for the University of Georgia’s Principles of Marketing Research course. As the materials are developing, I am posting some of the items here to get your feedback on whether we are on the right track and to acquire additional cases for the course.

I have just finished a section on laws, guidelines, regulations, and ethics and I have included a checklist. I would appreciate hearing you views on the checklist below.

Ethics Checklist – Mobile Marketing Research

No list can be complete or fully up-to-date, but this checklist should be useful when scoping a mobile marketing research project, in terms of ethics and guidelines:
  1. Is it legal? Check whether, in the country where the research is happening, with the approaches being used, and for the topic being researched, is it allowed within the relevant laws? In all cases the law should take precedence over industry or company guidelines. With a mobile study this includes when and how you can contact people (auto-dialers are not legal in some countries), what you can record (location and traffic data are restricted in some countries), and where the respondent can and cannot be (in most countries they can’t be driving and they can’t be in a sensitive area, for example customs and immigration at airports).
  2. Is it marketing research? Marketing researchers are increasingly being called on to use their skills on projects that are not marketing research. If a project is not marketing research the researcher should ensure that it is not called, or made to appear as, marketing research and should abide by the relevant laws and guidelines.
  3. Are you collecting personally identifiable data? Note, this includes photographs of people’s faces. If you are collecting personally identifiable data, you will need to have permission, you will need to follow data protection/privacy rules, and you should only collect such data as is needed by the project (don’t collect things just in case).
  4. Have you acquired informed consent? The main challenge with mobile marketing research is to ensure that the consent from the participants is adequately informed, especially when collecting passive data. If you collect video and images of people other than the research participant, have you acquired their permission?
  5. How will you avoid annoying people, for example an SMS to their phone at 1am in the morning may well wake them. In a global study, or in a country with different time zones, extra steps are required to ensure that MMR does not become a source of annoyance. Also, can the participant re-start the study if they lose their connection
  6. Try to make sure that the participant does not put themselves in danger. Check they are not driving or operating heavy machinery, advise them not to take pictures or videos of unsuitable subjects, such as other people’s children.
  7. What confidence can the user of the research have in the findings? If different participants will see versions of the surveys, rendered in different ways, in different circumstances, how will that impact the results? How has the sample been obtained, what does it represent, what can it be taken as a reasonable proxy for?
A good place to check that your research is heading in the right direction is ESOMAR, whose Guideline For Conducting Mobile Market Research is an important resource to researchers.

Mar 012013

Navin Williams and I are creating an MMR (mobile marketing research) module for the University of Georgia’s MRII’s Principles of Marketing Research course (under the guiding eye of Reg Baker) – click here to read more.

As part of that course we need to provide a very short summary of the history of MMR. So, the text below is my starting point and I would love to hear any suggestions, corrections, etc that people out there might have.

In terms of context, the course takes the term MMR to include:

  • Self-completion surveys via mobile devices (i.e. not CATI)
  • Qualitative research utilising mobile devices
  • Passive data collection via mobile devices

Mobile devices are taken as mostly being mobile phones, although more recently the term has been expanded to include tablets. Other devices exist, such as PDAs, but they have never been central to the bulk of MMR. Phones tend to be divided into smartphones and feature phones. However, the definition of a smartphone keeps changing, and a feature phone is pretty much any phone that does not meet the current criteria for a smartphone – and yes we are assuming that smartphone is now a single word.

A Brief History of Mobile Marketing Research

The first serious attempts to use mobile phones for market research appeared in the 1990s. The projects that were run at this time tended to use SMS. Questions were sent to respondents via SMS, and the respondents answered via SMS, typically by entering a single digit, such as 1 for Agree strongly, 2 for Agree, etc. These surveys were very short. Few market research projects were transferred to this method, because of the requirement for surveys to be very short and because the interface was considered so limited. This method is still in use today, in cases where it meets specific research needs.

One early innovation with the SMS method was to utilise its ‘in the moment’ potential. For example. some locations put up signs inviting users/visitors to text their satisfaction score to a central location. As phones became ‘smarter’, for example acquiring larger screens and some form of internet access (e.g. WAP) people started to try and utilise the phones for longer and/or more complex surveys. For example, by 2000 several researchers were reporting success in Japan, utilising DoCoMo’s early lead in this area, sending longer surveys and incentivising respondents via telephone credits. However, MMR remained marginal as a percentage of all marketing research.

With the growth in the ownership of smartphones, the app/web dichotomy was created and started to deepen. Some researchers preferred to design software that could be downloaded on respondents’ mobile devices, whilst others sought to get the respondents to connect to the internet. This dichotomy is explored elsewhere in the course. Although both routes are still being used, the majority of quantitative MMR at the moment is via browsers, i.e. by connecting to the internet at the time of the survey, rather than via an app. The app approach, however, is very popular with some of the qualitative and passive data collection approaches.

By about 2005, with Blackberry phones becoming more common and internet enabled PDAs becoming more common, researchers started reporting that a small percentage of respondents were completing online surveys, intended for PCs, on their mobile devices. At the time this ‘accidental’ MMR (accidental on the part of the researcher) accounted for a very small proportion of online surveys. Over the next 8 years this proportion of accidental MMR has grown, as phones have become smarter/larger, and with the arrival of tablets, and is now reported as being in the region of 10-20% of all online surveys.

From about 2005, the qualitative uses of mobile devices started to blossom. With a growing number of researchers utilising participant’s phones to collect data about the participants everyday lives – for example by collecting images and recordings. Researchers also started utilising participants’ mobile devices to connect the participants with blogs, bulletin boards, discussions and communities. From 2005, and until very recently, much (perhaps most) of the success stores in MMR came from the realm of qualitative research.

With the advent of the iPhone in 2007, MMR moved into a higher gear. Qualitative researchers sought to use the extra facilities, as did some quantitative researchers. In 2008, the appearance of Android phones from companies such as HTC helped ensure that the new generation of smartphones established a critical mass, enabling MMR to focus on the benefits of mobiles.

In 2010 the iPad was released, presaging a major growth in the penetration of tablets, and making definitions in MMR a bit more tricky. Some researchers have been using smartphones as CAPI devices for several years, but the arrival of tablets has made this more attractive and easier to implement.

By 2010 mobile phones had become common across both the developed and developing world. Consequently, researchers were putting them to ever greater use in developing markets, particularly in Africa and Asia. However, in developing markets MMR tends to focus on feature phones rather than smartphones, and online surveys tend not to be an alternative.

From about 2010 there has been a growth in the amount of passive data being collected as part of MMR (telcos have been collecting it for their purposes from the outset, of course). This passive data is typically collected by downloading an app onto the phone, which records information such as: usages, internet connection, phone calls, location, etc.

By 2012 the MMRA (Mobile Marketing Research Association) had been formed, conferences were being dedicated to the topic of MMR, ESOMAR had published guidelines on the proper and ethical use of MMR, and there were about 6 billion mobile phones in use globally.

I would love to hear your thoughts, corrections, suggestions, extensions etc? In particular, I am keen to source data on the incidence of different forms of MMR from about 1990 onwards.

Jan 262013

At the moment I am working on two exciting projects with Navin Williams looking at mobile market research (MMR), a book and course – more on these soon.

As part of these projects I have been taking another look at the phenomenon of ‘accidental MMR’.

Most people who are using online surveys are already using MMR, even if they have not decided to, and even if they are not aware of it. Any online survey, even if not designed for a mobile device, runs the risk of being completed on a mobile device by some respondents – unless specific measures are taken to avoid it.

Surveys sent to members of online access panels or to customers sourced from client databases are frequently completed via mobile devices – unless the survey has been designed to recognize the mobile device and designed to prevent a mobile device being used. This form of MMR is referred to as accidental mobile research, and the prevalence of accidental MMR is one of the reasons that it is safe to say that MMR, in 2013, has ‘arrived’.

As with most things mobile, reliable and consistent figures, about the prevalence of accidental MMR, are hard to obtain. In Europe and North I hear figures that vary from 5% to 20% , and a recent project from Hong Kong produced 20% using mobile devices – with about half using tablets.

Do you have estimates about the prevalence of MMR? All sources and figures submitted will be thanked and cited in our book and course.