Friday, October 21, 2011

Internet users want games and porn - Tricia Wang

tricia1Tricia WangSociologist Tricia Wang analyzes on her website the wonderful world of shanzai, or the mobile knockoffs that are so popular in China. More than features, she tells, Chinese internet users want games and porn on their Nokia N9 knockoff.

Tricia Wang:


But it wasn't the impressive overload of OS interfaces, dual-sim card, 3.8″ WQVGA 240×400 resistive touch screen or the  1.3MP rear and front facing camera that caught my attention.

It was an advertisement on Taobao that revealed much more about what Chinese users want: games and porn (two areas I research). Below the description of the knock off, the first and most prominently placed feature of the Noka N9 was Talking Tom - a game that could that operate across platform. The writing in red claims that:

In all of history, this is the most versatile Talking Tom ever!!
史上功能最全的会说话的TOM猫!!
Then below three rows of Talking Tom screenshots, is another ad for a game that allows you to watch females strip when you blow on the microphone:
Most deliciosly evil game of pretty girls stripping!!
邪恶的美女走光游戏!!!
Then below the stripping games are more pictures of other games included in the phone from Angry Birds to Fruit Ninja.
If users just want games and stripping apps, then do they really need any of the other features that are offered in any of the original OS's  on phones that cost 3-15 times as much as knock offs? Not really, at least according to this Taobao advertisement which shows that it is possible to reduce user needs down to a few most necessary apps. The success of Shanzai mobiles tells us that the purity of an OS actually matters little to these users. They just want a phone thatlooks like a smartphone with games and basic features. The interesting point here is "looks like."  The Noka N9 is a semi-smartphone (半职能手机) that looks like a smartphone but doesn't have the full features of a pure smartphone. In previous interviews that I have conducted with shanzai phone users, they expressed that they valued durability (i.e. droppability. not longevitiy) and affordability in a phone. But in more recent interviews, they now the new value for non-elite users is to have a phone that can do the things that they see smartphone users doing - like interacting with more complex, interactive, & graphically rich stuff - like Talking Tom & Girls Stripping.


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