Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Toward a Theory of Adoption of Mobile Technology Devices: An Ecological Shift in Life-Worlds

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Toward a Theory of Adoption of Mobile Technology Devices: An Ecological Shift in Life-Worlds

Article excerpt


So when they [employer] gave me this [smartphone], I really complained because I don't like the layout of the device as far as using it just for a phone. Because, you know, when I first got it, I just treated it as a [regular] cell phone because that's what I thought it was because that's what it was replacing. So I was just trying to use it as a cell phone. Then quickly I started realizing that I could use it for checking my email. Then from there, texting. I started using the calendar more. You know, for scheduling things. Then my contacts. One of the people here at work introduced me to the world of apps [smartphone applications]. So it's just been, you know, one thing at a time. I've not used the GPS function on this, but I know some other folks who've started using it and they've found it very helpful. So maybe that will be something new for me as well. (Barbara)

You know, now ... I couldn't live without it. Sometimes I have to stop and think how did I do it before this? (Barbara, later in the same interview)

Meaning matters. And yet, at the vectors of production, consumption, public discourse and potential discontent, the meaning that people, as consumers, ascribe to their possessions, as products, seems to remain ever elusive, perhaps most tragically to those in control of resources to produce products. As Belk (1988, p. 139) succinctly notes: "We cannot hope to understand [how people interact with products] without first gaining some understanding of the meanings that consumers attach to possessions." Understanding the personal, socio-cultural, and situational meanings that arise through interaction with "things" provides the entities that create and advocate such products with insight into how humans perceive, engage, manipulate, interpret, internalize, and divest of their offerings.

To be sure, meaning matters greatly for people as they interact with technology products, a concern acutely recognized by many prominent consumer psychology scholars (Kozinets, 2008; Mick, 2003; Mick & Fournier, 1998; Thompson, 1994; Wind & Mahajan, 1997). Particularly, Mick (2003, p. iii-iv) prescribes goals for such research that include "more serious and more focused [study of] the nature, role, processes, and consequences of [technology] consumption ideology." Accounting for the social appeal of technology, Kozinets (2008) calls for an ongoing holistic understanding of technological ideologies as they direct consumer narratives and consumption practices. Perhaps most prescriptively, Wind and Mahajan (1997), as they account for the failure of many innovative technologies to reach the mainstream markets, declare that a novel (at least for consumer behaviorists and marketers) "anthropological" tact is necessary to deconstruct the importance of the "social-cultural-economic" context in which innovative technologies are used by consumers (Wind & Mahajan, 1997, p. 5).

Despite this now decades-old collective call for a fresh approach to understanding the complexities of new technology adoption, researchers in the fields of both technology product development and consumer psychology continue to assume a decidedly utilitarian, seemingly deterministic, and relatively narrow research agenda primarily concerned with the activities leading up to and including product adoption (Bass, 1969; Chao, Reid & Mavondo, 2012; Constantiou, 2009; Davis, 1989; Horrigan & Satterwhite, 2010; Jeyaraj, Rottman & Lacity, 2006; Rogers, 1995; Schmidt, 2004; Sood & Tellis, 2005), with relatively little focus on ongoing consumption processes of technology integration. While the historical approaches to studying technology adoption clearly provide important contributions, they largely neglect the meaningrich potentiality of post-acquisition consumer narratives (Mick & Fournier, 1998, p. 123).

In an attempt to redress this imbalance, the current research directly confronts this languishing exhortation, succinctly captured by Mick & Fournier (1998, p. …

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