Mobile Surveys – Kill Me Now

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As I write this blog from the comfort of the Toronto Transit Sytem using my Blackberry, I am reminded of various things. Like, what surgery could I get to add two more thumbs to each hand and how much does carpal tunnel surgery cost? Damn, this is slow and painful! But, while I’m here waiting for the traffic to get going, why don’t I just take a few moments of my time to answer a survey.

As I mentioned in a previous blog about the Esomar conference, during which a few folks extolled the virtues and vices of mobile research, I still don’t see mobile research taking off. It has been around for years and has so far failed to gain any solid footing. Sure, phone technology hasn’t been that great and now we have far better systems. IPhones take gaming on your phone to a whole new level and blackberries let your worklife interfere with your personal life with the utmost efficiency.

But, even though I’m probably more techie than about 51% of the population, I can barely get this BB to work. My preferred twitter platform refused to cooperate during the Esomar conference, I’ve made numerous butt calls, and I can never tell when my data limit is about to be reached. I can’t imagine how many glitches and oddities I would have to overcome just to answer the simplest of short surveys.

Perhaps I would make the effort to answer a point of sale mobile survey if it got me 20% off my purchase. Let’s just forget the 45 and 60 minute surveys here, but even 15 minute surveys that are rarely accepted by clients are out of the question. If 3 POS questions take 3 minutes, I might make the effort. Might. Might not. Probably not. I’ll be honest with myself. I won’t. I’ve already gone bug eyed writing this.

I suspect that mobile surveys will follow the same trend as paper and online surveys. Keeners and early adopters will hop on board first and give researchers great hope about the feasibility and valdity of mobile research. Keeners will be paying such close attention to this cool new thing that their friends will hear about it and want to do it too. Those regular folks will join after all the major glitches have been worked through. And then, we will be back where we started. Responders will become bored with the format. Surveys won’t keep up with the unending quantity and quality of free entertainment available on cell phones. People will want incentives and compensation. People will realize that the pain, physical financial and temporal, just isn’t worth it. And mobile surveys will slowly meet the same fate as paper and online surveys.

You have to give researchers credit though. We are desperately trying to solve a long-term problem. We are trying anything we can to reach more and different people in more and different ways. We’re trying to think outside the box even though we haven’t left the box since someone dreamt up the survey.

Mobile surveys? Just another box.

P.S. Still loving surveys!


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    2 responses

    1. I can get you a price tag on that carpal tunnel surgery. Wifey goes in for it on November 16th. Of course, my price tag is based on an over-inflated US Health Care (cough) system and the fact that MD’s will charge the skies limit knowing that Insurance Co’s will give them 40% of that and they’ll still make a profit.

      We are seeing an increase of mobile surveys in developing nations because they’ve totally skipped over desktop and laptop surveys and frankly, all have mobile phones. China, India, South Africa seem to be heaviest users of our platform right now.

      Additionally it’s being used in place of paper & pencil (still interviewer administered) which allows for better control over rotation/randomization of questions/brands, etc.

      That is where I think the use will come to fruition outside of developed nations.

      1. Not good news for the wifey! My household is on the daily 30 min physiotherapy to avoid it getting any worse.

        Those mobile phone uses make sense. Phones are far more affordable and portable, though laptops are almost the size of phones now and the price is practically there too!

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