A View from Erica Naone

Why Mobile Devices Are Used Differently in Asia

IDEO’s Moggridge shows that design always comes down to human behavior.

  • September 23, 2009

I’ve often heard makers of mobile applications and devices at conferences in the United States talk about all that’s done in Asia, but efforts to port similar technologies to the States never seem to work. For example, Sky Dayton’s company, Helio, had a cool device and a partnership with powerful Asian operator Docomo, yet their technology could not take off.

In a talk today at EmTech@MIT 2009, Bill Moggridge, founder of IDEO, outlined some of the difficult considerations that go into designing for a connected world. As always, user behavior proves to be king. In Asia, he noted, many people have long commutes in situations where it would be rude to talk or make noise. The commutes, however, are perfect for fiddling with buttons and learning complex mobile apps. Moggridge attributes the popularity of certain types of text-heavy mobile apps to this ultimately behavioral condition.

In the United States, Moggridge sees nearly the opposite situation. People in the U.S. are likely to have long car commutes, where fiddling with buttons would be dangerous, but they can talk to their hearts’ content.

He concludes that developers who want to transfer technologies between cultures need to consider behavioral differences, and they need to be sure to test with users.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.
Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from undefined

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.

  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Join in and ask questions as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

You've read of free articles this month.