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Microsoft word - mobile_ux_in_la_final.doc

Mobile Internet User experience in Latin America
Yenny Otero, Mercedes Herrera, Wolfgang Maehr, Martha Isabel Castillo


work). Some activities from the informal economy are: the In this paper we analyse the aspects of user experience and home aid with no salary, domestic maids, unpaid family acceptance for mobile Internet in Latin America and workers, casual labourers, street vendors and artisans or propose some solutions to the highlighted problems. craft producers. This may be a reason why the mobile phone has had such a success. Many businesses work in Keywords
this environment and the mobile phone might be the way Latin America, developing countries, Internet, mobile internet, user experience elements, acceptance. 2. ASPECTS OF UX AND ACCEPTANCE IN LATIN
The Latin American society is divided by stratification and, We have analysed how some of the elements of user opposed to the system of welfare in developed countries; experience, taken from Hiltunen et al [1] and Roto [2], are there are very big differences between the poorest and the richest. The upper stratums of the society have a standard of living as the one in Europe or North America and the lower stratums have a very different perspective of life: As described by Roto [2] when analysing the “ user needs they work hard on unstable jobs, they live with just the for internet on a mobile device”, there is not proven need money for the current day and they struggle for being able for the full Internet in the phone. This could be changed by to afford education or any other commodity after paying for analysing the cases where the internet can provide real value in situations where the only access is the mobile phone. As well, this will definitively increase in the case Only a small amount of the population has internet access users have the mobile phone as the primary place where to from their homes (i.e. Brazil, although being the country in access the internet. More about this issue will be discussed the region with most internet users, has only 6% of the population accessing it from home [17]) and this is usually associated to intellectual work or a certain educative level and economic capacity to support the expense that this The value of Internet is directly proportional to the value of represents. With respect to mobile phones, the situation is the services it provides. In developed countries people uses quite different: due to a rapid increase in the cell phone many internet services while in developing countries this offer and many promotional plans where phones where given for free when purchasing some other item; it has increased to the 70 percent of the Latin American Context:
population using cellular phones [7]. In this scenario even Security: Latin American countries are clearly less
beggars have a mobile phone and robberies have secure than developed ones. Economic insecurity in significantly decrease. Unfortunately the costs for using Latin America is multifaceted and has many sources those mobile phones and specially internet prices are still that feed on each other. Some of the insecurity arises extremely expensive as almost half the population of Latin from the decline in employment protection and America must live with less than one US-$ per day and 240 increased volatility of household outcomes. Some of it million individuals are living under the poverty line [18]. is the result of erratic capital flows and the systemic Mobile phones in Latin American countries are mainly instability generated by a divorce between the used for calling, making up to 93% of the revenue while instruments of stabilization and the real economy. [9] only 7% is made by other services as instant messaging [5]. So, it can be unsafe to use a mobile phone in certain places as it can increase the possibility of being It is also important to consider that approximately 51% of the Latin American economy is driven by "informal Mobility: Using public transportation in Latin
economy"[19] which is the name of great number of America is a completely different experience than in activities in the informal section of the economy that developed countries. It is usually less comfortable and normally do not meet with certain economical and crowded, many times it does not have defined administrative characteristics proper of a formal economy schedules or stops, it can be quite noisy, insecure and (i.e. no complex technology nor advanced ways of usually doesn't have a systematic way of payment. In production are used; there is no established division of this scenario the challenges brought when focusing on a small mobile screen or using one’s time to find the around, try to avoid being alone and are more social which correct web page might be too big for the benefit might have an impact in the use of mobile phones. We have also considered how Latin American society can User skills:
perceive some elements from the Technology Acceptance Latin America has 11% of illiteracy, which traduces to Model for Mobile Services from Davis [3]: approximately 39 million adults who cannot read or write [10]. For those, the visual internet is completely useless. As Perceived value:
well, there is a quite low knowledge of foreign language When the mobile Internet cost is so big (money and effort) and, even when there is a considerable number of services and there is no clear unique gain from using it (having the in Spanish, many search engines must be configured in possibility of waiting to reach a desktop computer without order to get results in the correct language adding loosing much) it does not bring real value to use Internet unnecessary results and complexity when trying to find Perceived ease of adoption:
There is no general awareness about the possibility of using Availability: In 1997, over 60% of the people in
the internet from a mobile phone and, for most of the developing countries lived in rural areas, yet over people, this would sound too complicated to use. 80% of the main telephone lines where in urban centres [13]. With growing mobile phones connections and the use of better technology people 3. POSIBLE SOLUTIONS
in rural areas is finally having an opportunity to Based on the special needs of Latin American society we have considered some solutions that might help increasing Speed: Greatest part of the connections use second
Interruptions: Specially in rural areas mobile
connections can be interrupted, specially while on Take away complexity from the mobile internet and the move as the signal can easily be lost. improve radically its ease of use by providing already Cost: For most of the population it is extremely
installed small applications that give solutions to concrete expensive to use the mobile Internet. As an example problems instead of expecting the user to use the complete we can consider the cost in Colombia: to download internet all the time. We could even consider to provide an average web page (130K) it costs around some services supported by sound to take advantage of the US$0,21 while a litre of milk costs US$0,83 (same natural affordance of the mobile phone (interaction by as 4 web pages) and a bus ride costs less than 0.50 voice) and not require too much attention from the user. USD (same as 2 web pages). Mobile phones are considered to be expensive even if not using the Provide:
internet: “the cost of a low volume mobile service Before users get hold of phones, provide already installed, basket (that only includes 25 short outgoing calls configured and functional tools that work to solve local and 30 SMS per month) represents a very significant needs (based on the city / region) out of the box. As well, percentage (well above 5%) of the income of the complementing desktop online activity with the mobile poor in six key Latin American markets. In sum, sounds like a more sensible step in order to introduce those at the bottom of the income pyramid still find mobile internet than expecting internet activity to be it hard to afford a minimum level of mobile services. independently done on desktop and on mobile. This explains the various cost control strategies observed across Latin America, together with the shared use of mobile phones, the widespread use of Different business models could provide affordable fixed payphones for outgoing calls and the resale of lower prices to mobile Internet while helping people to access it pre-paid credit offered by some operators”. [14] and creating a market for these solutions. Support:
The insecurity of society and carefulness Latin American The perception of trustfulness would increase if the people have, especially with money, might be translated to solutions are already provided in the phone and supported the mobile internet use so they might be less likely to use from renowned brands as phone manufacturers. Connection:
Cultural context:
Technical server side solutions have proven to compress People in Europe use the mobile phone to “look busy” and web content and making the download faster and smaller people in Japan read online magazines while going in the [19]. As well, problems with availability of the connection train. In Latin America people interacts easily with those can be worked around by creating systems that support transportation information people might decrease the time waiting on dark and lonely streets. There could be a system to easily call for help by automatically sending This is the most important factor as the main drive cannot location information or tracking a person or a pet that has be to push the internet as itself but the services or the • Entertainment / Football: For Latin-Americans, a very
Digital libraries: Digital libraries are presented by
important source of entertainment is football (soccer) Witten [4] as the killer application for information championships. People might have a high interest in technology in developing countries by distributing vital following football results on their mobile phones. information as health, agriculture, nutrition, hygiene, sanitation, and safe drinking water or helping in many Providing ways of solving these needs is not just possible other areas: “ranging from disaster relief to medical with mobile internet but could be developed with other education, from the preservation and propagation of tools. However, we should focus on how the mobile indigenous culture to educational material that addresses internet can provide something unique from its competitor specific community problems”. Mobile Internet can easily provide the infrastructure and low cost devices to understanding its strengths and using them. • Transportation: There would be big challenges for real
time transportation information as, even inner-city buses First, people should be able to have access to mobile with the same route are owned by different companies. Internet and price is the most prohibiting of all issues, this As well, to have GPS sensors on each bus is not a should not be a problem by providing new business models realistic expectation due to cost and organizational issues that take advantage of the enormous potential market in (unless it is driven by the government). In the other hand, Latin America. Awareness is other big factor and solutions due to the cultural conception of time, there would not be should be considered to inform, promote and teach a great benefit from understanding how long time it takes potential users about the new possibilities. for the metro to arrive if it does often and on regular stops. The biggest benefit could be for the unreliable After those issues are addressed we can consider including lines that might arrive every 30 minutes helping users desktop interaction / synchronization or using voice control avoid waiting for something that might not arrive. to overcome the limitations of the mobile phone and make • Maps and location: Still there are not good interactive
maps that might support location in Latin America. But, the most important of the steps to improve the user Making good maps solutions is a basic step to provide experience in Latin America has to be to give people good reasons to use the mobile Internet. As said by Bengt Forssberg, president of Ericsson Latin America: "the • Official functions: When paying accounts or presenting
growth of the mobile Internet market depends on the papers on banks or governmental offices, it would not be availability of services that people want to use, such as up- abnormal to have to queue for 30 mins. or even a couple to-the-minute news in local languages." [15]. This will of hours. Facilitating the use of the mobile internet for include focusing on already installed and working solutions these services or even just for being able to do something that aim to solve needs for information, location (my else while being in the queue (and knowing how much location in respect to things, places or people), security, time is left for being attended) would improve the experience of those inevitable bureaucratic processes. entertainment or other issues that make sense on the Still, we have to come around the policies that prohibit cell phones in banks due to its use for communication between robbers that use it to call and notify when Further work should also consider the issue of recycling and the usefulness of programs already implemented in • Voice over IP: An increasing number of Latin American
immigrants send such an amount of money to their families back home to affect significantly in the IBP of 5. ABOUT THE AUTHORS
the countries. International low cost calls are a huge Yenny Otero ( works as an
market in Latin America, specially when provided from Interaction Designer in Opera Software and follows a the convenience of a normal mobile subscription. [12] Master of Science in HCI from the University of Oslo, • Security: There are many ways how internet solutions
Mercedes Herrera (
may increase users security: By having real time is an Economist PHD in Urbanism Universidad Central, Caracas, Venezuela., working with master students at the [10] United Nations Educational, Scientifical and Wolfgang Maehr ( is getting his Master’s degree in HCI and Interaction Design at the IT University of Gothenburg and is currently working as an Interaction [11] LOPEZ Castaño, Hugo. 2005. Ensayos sobre Martha Isabel Castillo (
economía laboral colombiana. Biblioteca Virtual has a background in languages, psychology and teaching del Banco de la República de Colombia. Online Spanish to foreign students in Bogotá, Colombia. The opinions presented in this paper are not necessarily [12] Migrants’ Remittances- World Bank . Jan 16, 2007 [13] Petrazzini, Ben et al.1999. The Internet in Developing 6. REFERENCES
[1] Hiltunen M., Laukka M., Luomala J. 2002, Mobile [14] IGLIRA, June 28, 2007 Affordability of Phone User Experience. IT Press, Finland. Services in Latin America Net2news San Francisco, [2] Roto, Virpi. 2006, Web browsing on Mobile Phones, Characteristics of User Experience. Espoo, Finland. [3] Davis, F.D., 1989, Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information [15] Time Warner Magazine. Oct 25th 2000. Ericsson and technology. MIS Quarterly, 13, 319 – 339. CNN to Deliver News via Mobile Internet in Latin [4] Witten, Ian H. 2006. Digital Libraries for the Developing world. FORUM. Cape Town, New,20 [5] Revista Enter 2.0 Texto vs.Voz en el telefono mobil [16] Wall, Wayne Vandel,COO, Mobility Lucent Technologies, Latin America. Wireless Broadband Access Offers a Path to Global Connectivity. Online$ticles/7WirelessBroadba [6] Estrada, Daniela, June 30, 2007 Latin America Earning-Used cell phones IPS Santiago de Chile. [17] Emarketer, 2007, Brasil online report, New York. [7] El Tiempo, Biggest Colombian newspaper. Tuesday, 22nd may 2007. Telecomunications special edition p [18] Rohleder, Jörg. 1998. Neoliberalism and Neostructuralism. Online version: http://tiss.zdv.uni- [8] American Sociological Association 2004 Annual Meeting Title: Social Stratification in Latin [ America: Reviving the Class/Gender Debate November 28, 2006. Opera Software, Oslo, Norway. per_info.html?pub_id=3056&part_id1=17150 Latin America. Online version:


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