Why is the Diffusion of Mobile Service Not an Evolutionary Process?

Why is the Diffusion of Mobile Service Not an Evolutionary Process?

Mohammad Tsani Annafari (Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden) and Erik Bohlin (Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1981-4.ch002
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This study aims to explain whether the diffusion of innovation, particularly in the case of mobile service diffusion, can be considered an evolutionary process. To justify this proposition, the mobile service use is considered as artifact-activity couple which represents a dynamic combination of the artifact, i.e. the mobile service and handset, with the immediate set of individual routines that sustain the use and development of mobile technology. This entity also plays a role as a unit of cultural transmission or a unit of imitation, which is analogous to a meme. With this analogy, the diffusion of mobile service can be viewed as a cultural evolution process where its chief mechanism of survival is learning. Thus, as a successful innovation, the mobile service use can be directly taught and spread to others through cultural transmission, i.e. mimicking process. In this process meme plays role as both a replicator and interactor. As a replicator a meme passes most of its structure in sequential replications. As an interactor a meme makes a cohesive interaction with its environment in such a way to generate a differentiated replication. This will lead to selection which in turn can give a rise to a lineage. These processes are identical to selective retention and variation, which are the main features of evolutionary process and determine the dynamic pattern in diffusion process. This indicates that the mobile service diffusion can be viewed as an evolutionary process. Therefore the essential feature of evolutionary conceptions should be incorporated when modeling the diffusion of the mobile service to bring a more realistic explanation of the diffusion process.
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Diffusion of innovation study has long been recognized as a central point for understanding the contribution of technical progress to economic growth. The study basically deals with the process by which new technological forms are integrated into the economy to generate changes in its structure. In this case, the diffusion-related structural change can be studied at both macro level, which covers the development of the entire industry, and at micro level, which analyzes how new product, service, or consumer goods are diffused to generate corresponding marginal changes in the behavior of firms or individuals (Metcalfe, 1988, p. 560). In the latter case, the diffusion of innovation can be seen as the representation of aggregate demand that often characterizes the technological change (Ben-Zion & Ruttan, 1978). This type of study has been widely applied across different types of innovations including mobile service.

To date, many studies have addressed the diffusion of mobile service1. Recent studies such as those by Chen, Watanabe, and Grify-Brown (2007), and Funk (2009) seek to understand the determinant of the speed of diffusion in the market from macro level and its impact on the industrial dynamic in mobile communication. However, a large portion of the discussions in mobile service diffusion studies focus on explaining the fit of S-shaped curves across the diffusion model, either in a single market setting or as a comparison across countries (see Table 1).

Table 1.
Some recent mobile service diffusion studies
StudyDiffusion Model(s)Country(ies)Period
Gruber and Verboven (2001) LogisticEU-151981-1997
Koski and Kretschmer (2005) Logistic321991-2000
Rouvinen (2006) Gompertz2001992-2000
Lee and Cho (2007) ARMA and LogisticKorea1984-2002
Singh, S.K. (2008) Gompertz and LogisticIndia1995-2008
Michalakelis et al. (2008) Bass, Fisher-Pry, Gompertz, and LogisticGreece1994-2005
]]Gamboa and Otero (2009)Gompertz and LogisticColumbia1992-2000
Grajek and Kretschmer (2009) Logistic411998-2004
Hwang, Cho, and Long (2009) Bass, Gompertz, and LogisticVietnam1995-2006
Wu and Chu (2010) Gompertz, logistic, Bass, and ARMATaiwan1988-2007

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