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Term Explanation
3G Third generation mobile technology, supports mobile broadband facilitating use of the internet from mobile devices. The roll-out of 3G dates from about 2001.
4G Fourth generation mobile technology, faster mobile broadband than 3G. The roll-out of 4G dates from about 2009.
Accelerometer A sensor in a mobile device that detects and measures movement.
Android An operating system for touchscreen mobile devices, developed by Google and currently the most common operating system on new phones sold.
App A piece of software that runs on a mobile device, such as a game, a browser, or a survey app.
App store An app store is a service where apps can be downloaded, including free and purchased apps. Apps downloaded from an approved app store such as iTunes or Google Play are more likely to be trusted than those downloaded from other locations.
Asynchronous online qualitative research Qualitative approaches, such as online discussions, that do not require the participants and the moderator to be online at the same time. (See also ‘Synchronous online qualitative research’)
Avatar The way somebody is identified online: it can be just a name, it can include an image, and it can be more complex.
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) A low cost, relatively secure messaging system that connected BlackBerry devices together. BBM is now available for other devices.
Bluetooth A technology protocol used for short distance transmission of data between mobile devices.
Bluetooth LE A low energy (LE) version of Bluetooth.
CAPI Computer Aided Personal Interviewing, usually a form of face-to-face interviewing where the questionnaire is administered via a computer.
CCTV Closed circuit TV, often referred to as security cameras.
Cell tower tracking A method the telcos can use to track where people are located by checking which towers that are connected to.
Chunking Chunking is a process for reducing the length of a survey. The survey is divided into sections so that the participant can complete it one or more section at a time. It is also called modularising.
Crowd (as in ‘the wisdom of the crowd’ or crowdsourcing) The crowd refers to ordinary people, as opposed to experts or professionals. The Wisdom of Crowds was the title of a book by James Surowiecki (2005) which suggested the average estimate of ordinary people can be as good as experts.
Device agnostic Device agnostic, or platform agnostic, in the context of mobile research, means allowing participants to choose whether to use a PC or a mobile device.
Environmental sensors Sensors on a mobile device that can measure some aspect of the environment, such as air pressure, temperature, or light.
Ethnographic data Data about people’s everyday lives, for example images and videos from people’s day-to-day experiences.
Ethnography The study of the lived experience, usually consisting of collecting ethnographic data, analysis, and the creation of an explanatory narrative.
Feature phone There is no phone that is ‘a feature phone’. The term has been retrofitted to describe phones that are not smartphones.
Flash Flash was a widely used tool to provide graphics and animation on websites. It has fallen into decline in recent years as it is not supported by iOS or Android, the leading smartphone and tablet operating systems. The owner of Flash, Adobe, has largely discontinued the production, development, and support of Flash.
Forums An online discussion. Either a single conversation or a collection of discussions.
Gamification The utilisation of game-like elements into a survey or process to make it more engaging.
Geofencing Geofencing is where a boundary is established for a location (for example a specific restaurant) and technologies are used to identify when somebody enters or leaves. The information about people entering or leaving an area can be used to trigger location-based activities, such as a survey.
Geolocation Working out where somebody is, for example by using GPS.
Geotagging Adding location information to other data, for example adding location to a survey or image.
Google Glass A piece of wearable technology from Google, including a camera, voice recognition, and a screen.
GPS Global Positioning Satellite. GPS uses satellites to locate a device.
Gyroscope Sensor which measures the turning and rotation of a device.
HTML HyperText Markup Language. HTML is the main method of creating web pages for the internet, using text commands.
HTML5 HTML5 is the latest version of HTML. HTML5 is, amongst other things, very suitable for mobile devices.
iBeacon A new device from Apple that uses Bluetooth to recognise when a phone is nearby, for example when entering a store.
IM (Instant messaging) A method of real-time chat, usually text, usually via the internet.
Installed base The devices that are in use. The installed base is often used in contrast to the recent device sales figures, which reflects what has been bought recently.
iOS The operating system from Apple used by the iPhone and iPad.
ITU (International Telecommunication Union) The United Nations specialist telecommunications agency.
Location analytics Analytics based on location data, for example GPS information.
Location-based Services (LBS) Services based on location information, for example sending a message to a shopper’s phone as they enter a store.
mCAPI or Mobile CAPI Mobile CAPI (Computer Aided Personal Interviewing), using a mobile device to assist with face-to-face interviewing.
mCATI Mobile CATI (Computer Aided Telephone Interviewing), conducting telephone (voice) interviews via participant’s mobile phone.
Metaphor (of the device) The metaphor of a device describes the way people interact with a device, for example GUI (graphical user interface) or WIMP (windows, icons, menus, and a pointer).
Micro-payments Very small payments, typically conducted via mobile devices.
Mixed-mode Using more than one mode for a study, for example some participants taking part in the study by completing an online questionnaire and some taking part by completing a paper questionnaire.
MMR An abbreviation of Mobile Market Research.
MMRA The MMRA is the Mobile Market Research Association – see more at
MMS Multimedia messaging service, used to send messages containing media files to or from mobile phones.
Mobile app See ‘App’.
Mobile device In most cases this refers to a phone, tablet, or phablet, but can also refer to wearable technologies.
Mobile diary/diaries Using a mobile device (phone or tablet) to keep a research diary, typically as part of a qualitative research project.
Mobile discussions Accessing online forums and/or discussions from a mobile device.
Mobile forums See ‘Mobile discussions’.
Mobile homework Task or assignment given to a research participant to undertake using their mobile device.
Mobile only Describes a project where all the participants are using mobile devices, as opposed to a mixed-mode or device agnostic project.
Mobile service provider The companies that provide the mobile phone networks that connect mobile phones to the wider telephone network.
Modularising See ‘Chunking’.
Motion sensor Sensor in a mobile device which detects movement.
Multi-mode See ‘Mixed-mode’.
NFC (Near Field Communication) A telecommunication protocol which allows two devices to talk to each other. It can be used to send and/or receive information when it is embedded in a mobile phone.
Operating system (OS) The operating system manages the hardware and allows programs and apps to provide services. Two leading mobile operating systems are Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.
Paradata Data about the research process, for example how long participants took to answer each question.
Passive data Data that does not require the active participation of a user to be collected. For example, the route taken by a participant on their way to work, collected via their mobile phone and GPS.
Passive data collection See ‘Passive data’.
PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) A mobile digital device. These have been largely superseded by tablets and modern mobile phones, but some are still in use for specialist purposes.
Phablet A phablet is a mobile device that is larger than a typical phone, smaller than a typical tablet, with the features of a phone. The word phablet is a combination of PHone and tABLET.
Pinging To send a signal from one device to another to either check a connection exists or to check the speed of a connection.
Platform agnostic See ‘Device agnostic’.
Professional respondents Research participants who are either (a) mostly or (b) entirely motivated by incentives and who take part in a large number of research projects.
Pure play A company that just uses a single channel, for example a retailer that only sells online.
QR (Quick Response) codes A mobile phone app that uses the phone’s camera to read and interpret a QR code.
Quantified self The trend in people keeping an ongoing record of some aspect (or multiple aspects) of their life – for example using NikeFuel to track their activities and food intake.
Research-on-research Often referred to as RoR. Research about the research process to help explore or explain research processes.
Return on investment Return on investment (often expressed as ROI) is the result of an investment. A positive ROI is where the return on the spending is at least more than the amount spent, and typically better than other uses the money could have been put to. The ROI can also be expressed as a percentage (ROI = net profit/investment × 100).
RFID Radio Frequency IDentification. A low-power wireless communication protocol. RFIDs are often used in badges, cards, and devices to permit entry, record activity, or to track location.
ROI See ‘Return on investment’.
RoR See ‘Research-on-research’.
Screen resolution The resolution of a screen describes the number of pixels, the number of separate items that can be turned on or off. The resolution is normally expressed as the number of rows and columns, for example 1024 x 768, which means 768 rows of 1024 pixels.
Screen size Physical size of a screen. It is normally the diagonal length of a mobile screen measured in inches.
Scripting In market research scripting refers to creating a computer administered questionnaire. In particular it often means being able to use a language to enter commands, either a survey language or a computer language such as JavaScript.
SIM (card) Subscriber Identity Module. A small card containing an integrated circuit that establishes the identity of a mobile device to a telephone service provider. For example, a SIM is used in a mobile phone to allow it to subscribe to a network.
Siri An Apple app that uses voice recognition to allow the user to issue commands and queries to a mobile device, such as an iPhone.
Smartphone The definition of a smartphone evolves over time. At the time of this book being researched it tends to refer to devices with a touchscreen, internet access, multimedia features, and capable of running a wide range of apps.
SMS Short Messaging Service. A method of sending text messages to and / or from mobile phones.
Software as a Service (SaaS) In a SaaS solution the software is accessed, typically, via the internet, and the user pays to use it, rather than paying to buy a copy of the software.
SoLoMo A combination of social, local, and mobile, used to refer to the convergence of these three elements.
Synchronous online qualitative research Synchronous refers to the moderator and the participants being online at the same time, as in an online focus group. The alternative is an asynchronous technique, such as an online forum.
Tablet A touchscreen computer, such as an iPad.
Telco Short for telecommunications company. The telcos provide the telephone services, including fixed lines, mobile, and internet.
Thread In an online discussion each separate discussion is known as a thread.
Unintentional mobile Unintentional mobile, also known as accidental mobile, refers to surveys where the research is designed or intended for participants using PCs, but where some participants choose to use a mobile device.
URL Uniform Resource Locator. The URL is also known as a web address. It is a text string that usually defines a specific web page.
USSD USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) allows a participant’s phone to be connected to the researcher’s computer via a gateway, allowing for messages of up to 182 characters to be sent backwards and forwards. Some agencies have had success using this method for research surveys, particularly in countries where smartphones and/or internet access are relatively rare, such as many countries in Africa.
Voice recognition Voice recognition is software that interprets the spoken word. Voice recognition is used in voice commands (such as those used by Siri and Google Glass).
VOIP Voice Over Internet Protocol, a method of using an internet connection to have voice or video conversations, for example Skype.
WAP WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) was an early method of providing internet to mobile devices and is still used when faster methods are not available.
Wearable technologies Devices that are worn, such as smart glasses or watches, which connect to mobile devices or the mobile network.
WE-research Enlisting people to collaborate in market research processes.