Thursday, July 12, 2007

Microsoft cultures creativity in unique lab

Microsoft's unique lab for observing UX ...

"As an ethnographer for Microsoft (MSFT), 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.

Remember PDAs, personal digital assistants? Think PDA organizer merged with a cellphone that can access your e-mail and the Internet. Market researcher Gartner calls these phones "smartphones," and researcher IDC refers to them as "converged mobile devices."

Microsoft has been drilling into this emerging market for more than five years. It supplies a version of its Windows operating system to run advanced phones such as the HTC-built T-Mobile Dash, the Samsung BlackJack and the Motorola Q.

Palm's Treo, Research In Motion's BlackBerry and Nokia phones based on the Symbian operating system are other examples. And Apple recently spiced up the mix by introducing the iPhone.

Smartphones — now about 10% of cellphones sold — should account for 20% of the cellphone market by 2010, says IDC. Many of those new users are expected to be average consumers, not busy managers or tech geeks as has mostly been the case.

"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."    (Continued via USATODAY)    [Usability Resources]

Mobile and Embedded Devices Experience Design Center - Usability, User Interface Design

Mobile and Embedded Devices Experience Design Center

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