Understanding Consumers’ Behaviour when Using a Mobile Phone as a Converged Device

Understanding Consumers’ Behaviour when Using a Mobile Phone as a Converged Device

Po-Chien Chang (RMIT University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-487-5.ch004

Abstract

This research aims at developing an empirical model to explore the factors that influence consumers’ use of mobile phones as converged devices. The use of mobile phones as converged devices refers to the utility of the various functions and services embedded in mobile phones, such as PIM, e-mail, entertainment, and commerce. The exploratory work draws from in-depth interviews and theories to identify some of the critical factors that drive consumer to use a mobile phone for various functions. The interview data was transcribe and analysed to construct a model. The finding shows that although Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) and other studies on mobile phones have been used to explain consumers’ adoption of different information technologies, they need further enrichment when applied to multi-functional (or converged) technologies and dynamic use contexts. Therefore, the result provides a significant step towards a better understanding of consumer behaviour in the context of technology convergence.
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Introduction

The convergence of technologies and networks is causing a huge impact on the digital economy and the industrial strategy since it was introduced over two decades ago (Katz, 1996). The concept was basically derived from the integration of information, communication and entertainment industries and is radically extended to other business entities (Bohlin, 2000; Fransman, 2000; Pagani, 2003). Although this phenomenon has been defined in various ways (Bohlin, 2000; Fransman, 2000; Pagani, 2003) and is a popular subject of some publications (Lind, 2004), the core concept is still vague and often causes confusions to the public from different interpretation (Katz, 1996). For instance, Rosenberg (1976) in his description of the industrial evolution, considered convergence as “the process by which different industries come to share similar technological bases (Gambardella & Torrisi, 1998, p. 445).” From the network perspective, the European Commission (EC) in 1997 defined convergence as “the ability of different network platforms to carry essentially similar kinds of services, or the coming together of consumer devices such as the telephone, television and personal computer” (Bores, Saurina, & Torres, 2003, p. 3). Moreover, Skenderoski (2007, p. 143) regarded convergence services as “the service is created with the consumer’s convenience in mind, accessible across different devices that are network connected.” Regardless of the various definitions found in the literature, the phenomenon of convergence is hardly conceived from the business practices and has less been analysed systematically from the research community (Lind, 2004). As noted, although numerous strategic studies have been accumulated under the premises of convergence, they mostly address the impact of convergence on strategic advantage and on company welfare. As such, there is little study that has effectively explored convergence from the consumer perspective.

In order to promote convergence research from consumers’ perspective, this research aims at developing an empirical model that draws from the relationship between technology convergence and consumer behaviours. According to the descriptions of Katz (1996), Rangone and Turconi (2003) and Pagani (2003), technology convergence integrates different features and services into one converged device providing the capacity to access different information resources. Although the demand for convergent device and mobile data services has yet to reveal, the diffusion and use of mobile phone have evolved into part of our daily life (Geser, 2004; Grant & Kiesler, 2001; Haddon, et al., 2001; Palen, 2002; Palen, Salzman, & Young, 2001). However, as mentioned by Stipp (1999), despite using a mobile phone merely for social communication, there is still a question with regard to whether consumers would respond to the changes brought about by the convergence of various features and services over the uses of mobile phones and how this would direct the way people interact with new technologies?

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