4 July 2006

Turning cultures of repair into cultures of innovation

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Cultures of Repair
In an effort to understand the total user experience, Jan Chipchase of the Mobile HCI Group at the Nokia Research Center in Tokyo, has taken time out during recent field studies in emerging markets to explore local repair cultures.

“The journey has taken me to cities such as Chengdu, Delhi, Ulan Bataar, Ho Chi Minh and Lhasa with recent brief stopovers in Kampala and Soweto. They all contain clusters of shops and market stalls selling a mixture of used and new mobile phones, and whilst (in this instance) size does not necessarily matter, they often operate on a scale not seen in cities such as London or Tokyo.”

“The mobile phone market around Chengdu’s Tai Shen Lan Lu Market for example stretches across number of streets and shopping arcades and includes 100’s of small shops and stalls. If you want a snapshot of urban mobile phone consumers in emerging markets this is a good place to start.”

He then goes on to explore what sets these locations apart from cities in more ‘emerged’ markets; how these mobile phone repair cultures are different from the everyday repair shops for other mainstream electronics; why these informal repair cultures exist at all; what we can learn from informal repair cultures; and what it would take to turn cultures of repair into cultures of innovation.

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