For frog-cookers everywhere, the accepted technique isn’t to drop a frog in a pan of boiling water (because it will jump out and the dog will go crazy trying to catch it) but instead to put the frog in a pan of tepid water and then heat it up so that the frog doesn’t really notice that the water is getting hotter and that he has a future as an entrée. It’s the same with the changes we see in our society and culture. Incremental change, over a long period of time, can mask truly revolutionary developments. So it has been with cellphones and mobile devices. Most of us can remember a time in our lives when cellphones were the domain of the wealthy, handy in case of a car breakdown but a novelty in other instances.
Just a few years later, it’s a vastly different story. The wireless trade group CTIA recently reported that there are 327.6 million active phones, tablets and laptops on cellular networks. That’s up nine percent from just January. And those 327.6 million devices exceed the 315 million women, men, boys and infants in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. That doesn’t mean that everyone has a mobile device, and 12 million have two; it means that some people don’t have a mobile device, and others have multiple ones.
And it means that mobile-device-enabled qualitative research is an idea whose time has come. People are so familiar with their devices, so comfortable in using them, and so uninhibited about using them anywhere and anytime that the devices are a godsend to companies and ad agencies desperate to get better insights from consumers in-the-field, in-the-moment, in the consumer’s own words and pictures.
We’ve met some folks who think that mobile devices are largely the province of the young and technologically savvy. That may have been true once, but it’s not true anymore. “Bolstering the mobile mania are kids, who are getting cellphones at ever younger ages,” CTIA said, “and seniors, who have begun to embrace the simplicity of tablets and smartphones.”
We’ve certainly seen this change at Qualvu and have designed methods and systems to keep ahead of it. The result is that we reach virtually any segment of the population with research assignments that leverage mobile video devices.
Frogs aren’t the only ones who can make leaps.