Categories: General

A Glance into Mobile Usage Patterns in India

This is a guest post from a community member, Arun Martin. 

Arun is a usability analyst from India who explores new ways to help users reach their goals. Prior to usability, he had worked in technical support and technical writing roles.

I work as a usability analyst, and was on a sabbatical for the past few months. I’m a regular user of Mozilla Firefox browser and always see their volunteering options listed at  I wanted to contribute my time in user research and reached out to Diane Loviglio, User Experience Researcher, at Mozilla.

Diane suggested that I conduct a user study on mobile usage patterns with my friends. 
I conducted user studies with 12 friends (8 males and 4 females) in Bangalore and Delhi over phone, and the duration of the studies ranged from 20 to 45 minutes.  The focus of the study was to learn how respondents used mobiles in their daily lives. The respondents, aged between mid 20s to early 40s working in mid-management roles in the research and design industries, and have a graduate degree in their respective disciplines.

Their mobiles included basic, QWERTY, and touchscreen models from leading handset manufacturers such as Apple, HTC, Samsung, Nokia, Research in Motion, and Micromax.

The studies were interesting, and most of the studies were done before 8 am and after 9:30 pm.  I should thank my respondents for contributing their valuable time and experiences at these odd hours considering that they had hectic workdays.

Important findings that emerged from the study were:

  • Respondents on a daily basis use alarms, WhatsApp (to share messages and pictures with friends), to-do-lists, and access Internet connectivity to check emails and apps.
  • Internet connectivity (2G and 3G) on mobile is used extensively to download and read documents, watch YouTube videos, and use apps during commute to office.  Internet connectivity on mobile serves as a backup when there is no connection available on the laptop.
  • Major wish lists include the availability of larger processing power for Internet connectivity, faster and better browser, and better screen size.
  • Documents such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are downloaded, edited, and emailed back rather than transferring them to the laptop.
  • Visits Apps Marketplaces every 3 or 4 days and browses for free apps.
  • Screen size measurements are not known to many respondents.
  • Users are not familiar with categorization options of pictures and music files on mobiles.
  • Mobile purchases are guided by new trends and features in the market and social acceptance.
  • Display of email folders varies between native apps and downloaded apps.

During the study, few interesting observations came up such as:

  • No option exists to access text messages during a call.
  • Watching cookery channels on YouTube on mobile through Wi-Fi in kitchen to prepare special recipes, and the additional time for cooking is utilized by watching movie trailers.
  • Compass functionality in iPhone is useful for a respondent to perform Namaz.
  • Using an app to receive and respond to emails through text messages few years ago.
  • A respondent who uses Opera Mini browser on his mobile, and opens multiple tabs including a separate tab for downloads says “Opera automatically creates a separate window for downloads. It allows me to keep browsing simultaneously without having to wait for the download to finish. At the same time I can keep a track of how much has been downloaded”.
  • Usage of camera flash as a torch.

It was a great learning experience to hear different perspectives about the usage of mobiles in their daily lives from my friends, and I hope my study helps Diane and her team.

2 comments on “A Glance into Mobile Usage Patterns in India”

  1. Ramanathan Haridoss wrote on

    As a social researcher, in my recent experience on mobile usage study among the youth in Srilanka, Two main factors were seen to influence the choices of handsets among respondents the first factor is social value of the handset also determined its desirability. Affordability of certain feature-loaded handsets made them popular. The second factor was a need for functionality which was defined by usability and a need for assurance of the basic functioning of the phone. While the first was prevalent in respondents across all age groups, the second factor was noted relatively more among older respondents, those above the age of 25. This sub section elaborates upon the ways in which each of these factors determines handset choices.

  2. apala wrote on

    did you find any difference in mobile usage between the bangalore and delhi participants or any gender based differences?