There is a nice little piece in the June issue of Research that tries to put interviewing on mobile phones in perspective. I'm not talking about something as old fashioned as calling people, but rather administering surveys on these little buggers by SMS, by Web browser, or by a special app you download that then can run survey questionnaires. There is a lot of hype around mobile right now, most of it by companies who have products they are promoting as the next big thing. But Diana Mitkov from Harris Interactive has done a nice job of running through the pros and cons, and it turns out that mobile currently is mostly cons.
There is a lot of good stuff in what is a very short article and I recommend it to you if you are interested in the topic. But like most other observers she comes down on what I think are the three key points. First, surveys by SMS are just too limited and the future of mobile interviewing, if there is one, is on the Web. Second, recognize that attention spans are short, screens are small, and download speeds are slow, all of which mean only short, simple surveys make sense. Finally, ignore all the hype about Web-enabled mobile phone penetration and pay attention to how few people who have the capability actually use it. In the UK, for example, while 38 percent of the population could browse the Web from their mobile phones just 16 percent actually do. People either find it too expensive, too slow, or just don't see the point. The most recent numbers that I have seen for the US are not terribly different.
The title of the piece says it all, "Still on hold."