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.

Diffusion of Mobile Internet Services

Antero Kivi

Doctoral dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the School of Electrical Engineering for public examination and debate in Auditorium S1 at the Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering (Espoo, Finland) on the 4th of November 2011 at 12 noon.

Overview in PDF format (ISBN 978-952-60-4303-6)   [3191 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 978-952-60-4302-9)


Mobile Internet is an outcome of the merging of two significant domains of technological innovation over recent years: mobile/wireless and the Internet. This merging will lead to new forms of end-user behaviour and also provide business opportunities for companies from the converging telecommunications, IT/Internet, and media industries. The diffusion of technological innovations is widely discussed in the literature. However, applications of the diffusion theory to mobile services have mostly concentrated on mobile telephony, and considered this diffusion to result from end-user adoption decisions that are made independently of other innovations. In contrast, the thesis of this dissertation is that the diffusion of mobile Internet services as systemic technological innovations depends on a cluster of separate but interrelated technology components that diffuse interdependently due to both demand-driven adoption and supply-driven dissemination.

This research was conducted using quantitative research data on mobile handsets and services collected from Finland during the years 2005-2009. The diffusion of mobile Internet services was found to depend on the generic technology components of mobile services: devices, applications, networks, and content. These components form an interrelated cluster of technologies. Consequently, direct market actor influence over a specific technology component has indirect effects on the other generic components, and, thereby, also influences the diffusion of mobile Internet services.

This dissertation contributes to the fields of innovation diffusion and mobile services research. Firstly, a general approach for planning and forecasting technology product evolution and new product feature diffusion was developed by isolating the previously unexplored phenomenon of product feature dissemination and linking it to the known phenomena of product category diffusion and product unit replacement. Secondly, observations on the diffusion of systemic technological innovations were made in the context of mobile Internet services related to component technology interdependence, market actor dissemination efforts, and end-user assimilation gaps. Thirdly, the fundamental differences of alternative methods to measure mobile service usage as well as the data provided by them were identified, and a holistic framework for analysing the usage of mobile services was developed. Fourthly, novel research methods and data were utilised.

This thesis consists of an overview and of the following 6 publications:

  1. Kivi A. (2009). Measuring mobile service usage: methods and measurement points. International Journal of Mobile Communications, 7(4), pp. 415-435.
  2. Smura T., Kivi A., and Töyli J. (2009). A Framework for Analysing the Usage of Mobile Services. INFO - The journal of policy, regulation and strategy for telecommunications, information and media, 11(4), pp. 53-67.
  3. Kivi A., Smura T., and Töyli J. (2009). Diffusion of Mobile Handset Features in Finland. Eighth International Conference on Mobile Business (ICMB 2009), Dalian, China, June 27-28.
  4. Kivi A., Smura T., and Töyli J. (2011). Technology Product Evolution and the Diffusion of New Product Features, accepted for publication at the Technological Forecasting and Social Change.
  5. Kivi A. (2010). Diffusion of Mobile Data in Finland. NETNOMICS: Economic Research and Electronic Networking, 11(3), pp. 243-254.
  6. Smura T., Kivi A., and Töyli J. (2011). Mobile Data Services in Finland: Usage of Networks, Devices, Applications and Content. International Journal of Electronic Business, 9(1/2), pp. 138-157.

Keywords: diffusion, mobile, Internet, dissemination, technology cluster, systemic innovation

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© 2011 Aalto University

Last update 2011-11-02