[MyResearch] Listening to Users for good LBS

Nice take in the feature about how the mobile industry should meet users' needs, written by Michael Hulme of Teleconomy.

TheFeature: Don't you think operators are starting to offer attractive and potentially very profitable location services?

Hulme: I think they are still far too simplistic. The operators only think in terms of where the person is located. The operators only think, "That person is near the shops," they don't think any further, and that’s complicated enough. Take an empty location. If it’s a restaurant, people will avoid it because they think it's unpopular. If it’s a bank, people will rush in!

TheFeature: How should the operators start thinking?

Hulme: An individual brings his or her own dispositions, or characteristics, to each location, shaped by their lifestyle and the type of person they are. Teleconomy has identified five such disposition types. These will all vary by the time of day, their mood, whether they are working, type of contact and so on. The actual location is meaningless without looking at the individual and their emotional and behavioral characteristics. These all affect their receptiveness to different types of mobile messages.

TheFeature: Isn't this great in theory, but impractical in practice?

Hulme: Not at all. Look at the retail industry. They develop spider's webs charts to do exactly this sort of thing -- to map their customers' likely behavior. It is a well understood and tested strategy. Look at all the thought that goes into a supermarket – the placing of product, the music, the ambience, the store layout and even the smell. The mobile industry does not think at all in this way.

TheFeature: What's the easiest application along these lines?

Hulme: Probably such areas as management and ordering. Remember the usage of a mobile phone is changing rapidly towards a data device. People use it to develop their own photo album using MMS. We are starting to do a lot of research on the youth market. Not because it is necessarily the largest opportunity, but because it is a great way of understanding future trends. We found that 10- to 12-year-olds don't think of the mobile device in terms of voice at all, but as something to hold their life, such as games, photos and so on. Operators should think about how to help people control their lives using the mobile device. Think in new ways about the space and have areas such as a trash can. Think about such things as disposable services.