Consumer Preferences for Mobile Internet: A Comparative Cross-National Mixed Methods Study

Article excerpt

Mobile Internet is defined as wireless access to the world wide web via a cellular network or a broadband network using mobile devices (Lee, 2009; Vlachos, Giaglis, Lee, & Vrechopoulos, 2011). It has become a part of our lives and is accompanied by a change in the patterns of consumer habits. The mobile communication industry now faces the challenge of predicting the evolution of mobile Internet and developing appropriate mobile devices.

The literature in this area, depending on the interests of different researchers, has been focused on technology diffusion (Chu & Pan, 2008; Liu & Li, 2010), technology adoption (Hong, Thong, & Tam, 2006; Shin, 2007; Zhou, 2011), quality of service (Vlachos et al., 2011), users and interface (Lee, 2009), the industry and the players (Fabrizi & Wertlen, 2008), and the success factors of the service (Kim et al., 2004; Shin, 2009). The technology adoption model can be applied to mobile Internet, which is a new form of information technology (Hong et al., 2006; Shin, 2007; Zhou, 2011), and because mobile Internet is also a service, many research topics in the field of service (e.g., quality of service, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty) can be applied to it. In addition, mobility, by nature, is a major topic in the field of context-based human computer interaction (Lee, 2009; Lee, Kim, Choi, & Hong, 2010). In particular, some scholars have focused on mobile Internet service providers, regulation bodies, and policy (Fabrizi & Wertlen, 2008; Funk 2011; Lembke, 2002). Therefore, when studying consumer preference in mobile Internet use, these different research areas can be adopted and integrated.

The objective in this paper was to clarify current consumer preferences in mobile Internet use and to predict the evolution of mobile Internet. In previous studies of the consumer's perspective, researchers have primarily used quantitative approaches. However, as the most important factors for industry managers are responsiveness and adaptiveness to the practical demands of the research problem, we reasoned that a mixed method of analysis would be the most appropriate (Gelo, Braakmann, & Benetka, 2008; Greene, Caracelli, & Graham, 1989). We therefore used both qualitative and quantitative analyses in this study.

Background of Mobile Internet Services

Mobile Internet Service Category

In this study, we explored whether or not consumers perceive mobile Internet as a service. Previous researchers have considered mobile Internet as a single concept without considering the reason(s) for mobile Internet use. In other words, previous researchers did not differentiate between, for example, the intent to use a weather information search service or an email service (Liu & Li, 2010; Shin, 2007; Vlachos et al., 2011; Zhou, 2011). Such an approach can be misleading because the assumption is made that mobile Internet is adopted regardless of the service needed.

Researchers who have studied the service category of mobile Internet have used different methods. Lee, Kim, and Kim (2005) classified mobile Internet into utilitarian services and hedonic services, while Yang (2007) categorized mobile Internet into information pull, information push, transaction, and access. Lee (2009) showed that different categories of mobile Internet service (communication, personalization, entertainment, and information) led to different perceived fulfillments of expectations. We therefore proposed the following hypotheses:

Hypothesis 1: Consumers will perceive each category of mobile Internet service differently.

Hypothesis 2: Consumers' preferences will differ for each category.

We used focus group interviews (FGIs) to determine consumers' perceptions of mobile Internet service and conducted a quantitative analysis to investigate consumers' preferences for the categories revealed in the FGIs.

Comparisons among Countries

Researchers have compared mobile Internet use in different countries. …