Intel's Genevieve Bell observing in a French kitchen
PC Magazine just published a long feature story on how anthropology is moving into the corporation.

Product development has historically been predicated on a “build it and they will come” basis. But times are changing, consumer choice is increasing and the game plan has evolved.

Ethnography, a branch of anthropology, uses a variety of research methods to study people in a bid to understand human culture. Since top companies across several industries are treating ethnography as a means of designing for and connecting with potential customers, technology companies have recently begun investing significantly more research time and money into the field. At chip giant Intel, for example, the company spent approximately $5 billion on ethnographic research and development during 2004.

As the respective leaders in the hardware and operating systems markets, both Intel and fellow tech giant Microsoft have begun using teams of researchers to identify new market opportunities and improve existing products.

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