The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Handset-Based Analysis of Mobile Service Usage

Hannu T. Verkasalo

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Faculty of Electronics, Communications and Automation for public examination and debate in Auditorium S4 at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 17th of April, 2009, at 12 noon.

Overview in PDF format (ISBN 978-951-22-9844-0)   [2533 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 978-951-22-9843-3)


This dissertation defines a handset-based method for analyzing mobile service usage. The research method can be used in conducting empirical studies of consumer behavior. The method combines collected handset-based usage data with survey data, both of which are important in modeling consumer behavior. The process involves a handset-based software module that automatically extracts data on service usage, and transmits this data to centralized servers for the purposes of analysis. The method facilitates empirical research on the mobile Internet and computer like functionalities of new mobile phones.

The research method is compared to other methods of empirical mobile service research. On several occasions the value of the defined research method is significant, providing accurate logs of service usage along with location and time stamps. The combination of subjective survey and objective usage data provides new angles in empirical research. The research conducted claims that the handset-based data collection method and associated analysis approaches provide valuable information for the stakeholders of the mobile industry. Results can be used in developing and launching new mobile services. Academic domains for the application of the research method include measurement of service usage, contextual end-user research, modeling of service adoption, and analysis of moderating factors of usage.

Regarding the actual use of the method, three key observations are made. First, though the dissertation proves the novelty value of accurately monitoring the behavior of end-users in using device functions, mobile services, and various applications, the limitations of the method need to be carefully considered and only suitable research problems should be studied. In particular, the adverse selection of panelists creates challenges in the generalization of results. Second, in addition to descriptive statistics including ranking of services, contextual statistics of service usage, and application adoption metrics, future research should interpret and explain the results more thoroughly, seeking a deeper understanding of reasons for usage observed. Most importantly, future research should utilize customized surveys and usage data in parallel, as demonstrated in the dissertation. Third, in order to support the scalability of the research method, the panel study process should be modified. The dissertation identifies the key challenges to be solved when replicating the study process in bigger, international studies. Panelists should be provided with other than monetary benefits for participating in a study.

The handset-based research method is a new innovation, providing a tool for further research and applications. The early results indicate that the method can be utilized in research problems that have substantial practical relevance in the mobile industry.

This thesis consists of an overview and of the following 5 publications:

  1. Hannu Verkasalo. 2007. Handset-based measurement of smartphone service evolution in Finland. Journal of Targeting, Measurement and Analysis for Marketing, volume 16, number 1, pages 7-25.
  2. Hannu Verkasalo. 2008. Dynamics of mobile service adoption. International Journal of E-Business Research, volume 4, number 3, pages 40-63.
  3. Hannu Verkasalo. 2008. Handset-based measurement of mobile service demand and value. Info: The Journal of Policy, Regulation and Strategy for Telecommunications, Information and Media, volume 10, number 3, pages 51-69.
  4. Hannu Verkasalo. 2009. Analysis of mobile Internet usage among early-adopters. Info: The Journal of Policy, Regulation and Strategy for Telecommunications, Information and Media, volume 11, number 4.
  5. Hannu Verkasalo. 2008. Contextual patterns in mobile service usage. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, Online First.

Keywords: end-user research, smartphones, mobile services, adoption of mobile applications

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© 2009 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26