(Dominik Strohmeier and Stella Zubeck contributed to this post)
On August 1st, the first wave of Firefox OS phones were released in Colombia and Venezuela. With the support of the Mozilla community, our User Research team is currently conducting a field study in Bogotá to learn more about people’s experiences transitioning from a feature phone to a smartphone.
Colombia is one of South America’s most rapidly growing mobile markets. Over the past decade, the middle class in Colombia has swelled to up to 30% of the population. In 2011, the government launched a program called “Vive Digital” to expand broadband access to all Colombians, and the internet and mobile market in Colombia is rapidly evolving and growing.
This Firefox OS field study is our first chance to meet Colombian users in a real-world setting. We designed a longitudinal study because we wanted to understand how our participants’ relationship with the Firefox OS phone and the mobile Internet would change over time.
We recruited 24 feature-phone owners to use the Firefox OS phone over a 17-day period. We gave them a phone with a generous voice and data plan so that they could fully explore all the phone’s features.
Our biggest challenge was designing an efficient yet rigorous study that would capture all of a participant’s feedback over time. We decided to implement both interviews and a diary study in order to leverage the strengths of multiple research methods.
The following activities were included in our study:
- Out of the box experience—In a focus-group setting, we watched as participants unboxed and explored the phones for the first time. Participants were very engaged with their new phones, and experimented with a variety of features: games, apps, the Firefox browser, and Facebook.
- First interview—Two or three days after they received the phones, we met with participants in pairs to learn about their initial experiences with the phone. We wanted to understand how participants had integrated the Firefox OS phone into their daily lives. We gathered a lot of feedback about bugs and features, and also began to learn about their mobile Internet usage. While participants suggested many changes to the phone, they were also clear that they did not want to return to their feature phones. Many liked being able to access the Internet throughout the day instead of waiting to return home at night to check email and Facebook.
- Daily surveys and assignments—Each day, participants gave us feedback on the phone. Some days, they would complete a short survey about their satisfaction with the phone and their feature usage. Other days, we asked them to explore specific topics on their smartphones, including app downloads and adaptive search. Using the surveys and assignments, we have been able to gauge how the phone fits into their daily lives.
- Final interview—To conclude the study, we will conduct a final paired interview with participants. This will give participants an opportunity to reflect on the phone and any changes the phone has made to their daily routines.
We hope to share more of the study’s results upon its conclusion. We also have lots of stories about cellphone use in Colombia and the challenges and opportunities presented by international mobile research. Stay tuned!
P.S. Many people across the globe helped to make this research possible, including dozens of Mozillians on three continents and our research partner, Sylver Consulting. So proud to work with you all.