As an ethnographer for Microsoft, Donna Flynn uses her training as a Ph.D. in archeology to analyze how ordinary folks from London to Beijing make daily use of their cellphones.
She feeds results of her field studies to two dozen designers, engineers and strategists toiling in an unusual research lab on the Microsoft campus. Awkwardly dubbed the Mobile and Embedded Devices Experience design center, or MEDX, it is where Microsoft plots strategies to sell souped-up cellphones that act a lot like PCs. [...]
“This lab is critical,” says Pieter Knook, senior vice president of Microsoft’s Mobile Communications Business. “To achieve our goal of putting a smartphone in everybody’s pocket, we need to establish a better connection with that end user and really understand how they want to use this phone.”