15 May 2007

The Times profiles Nokia user researcher Jan Chipchase

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Jan Chipchase
“I’ve got a fair idea of what you’re carrying in your pockets,” Jan Chipchase says, somewhat ominously. “I spend a lot of time rooting around in people’s bags. And fridges.”

So goes the opening gambit of a self-described “professional, authorised stalker”. Employed by Nokia, the largest mobile phone maker, he tracks human behaviour around the world to help to design the phones of the future.

A trove of mobile trivia, Mr Chipchase (actual job title: principal researcher) knows, first-hand, that burkha-wearing students in Iran cheat in exams using hidden Bluetooth headsets; that 50 per cent of the world’s women keep their phones in their handbags (and miss 30 per cent of their calls); and that most Asian early adopters who watch mobile TV ignore the mobile part and tune in from home.

In the past year, he has left his Tokyo base to visit 15 countries. He has studied the behaviour of mobile-phone owners from the shanty towns of Soweto to the bedrooms of Seoul’s painfully tech-savvy teens, trying to work out what handsets will look like 15 years from now.

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