We’ve been looking at the user experience challenges in emerging markets since the very first MEX conference back in 2005. With almost all new mobile subscriber growth now coming from developing economies, understanding the unique requirements of these markets has become one of the most significant challenges faced by the industry. This is one of our key focus areas at the 2008 MEX event in London on 27th – 28th May, featured on the agenda as Manifesto points #5: ‘The developing world is the new frontier for mobile user experience‘.
I sat down recently to explore this subject in detail with JD Moore, UI Designer at Nokia, who we introduced in last week’s ‘Meet the speaker‘ article. Moore will give a presentation at the conference to respond to this part of the MEX Manifesto.
You can watch our discussion below using LiveVideo (about 20 minutes).
Some of the key points which came out of the conversation were:
- The importance of directly involving local populations in the development of mobile products and services.
- Getting the basics right is absolutely crucial: fundamental issues remain unsolved, like access to power sources, the cost of mobile communications and offering products tailored to the local environment.
- There is long-term potential for even the most early stage economies to produce talented engineers and designers who can eventually lead product development locally.
- Global companies bring technology and scale advantages, but they must be sensitive to the local culture and invest in getting to know the reality of life in these markets.
- The lessons learnt in developing countries often have cross-over relevance to mature mobile markets, where the same techniques can be used to solve different problems.
In addition to JD Moore, the MEX session on this topic will also feature a presentation by Paul Adams, User Experience Researcher at Google. After listening to their insights, we’ll be challenging the conference delegates to work together in small groups to look at user experience issues from a developing markets perspective and hosting an open debate where each group can share its ideas.
MEX 2008 is on 27th – 28th May in London. You can register on-line at www.pmn.co.uk/mex/register08.shtml (delegate passes are GBP 1499).