Explore Technology Access & Mobile Use of Target Audience

Next, explore the ways in which the identified target audience interacts with technology, and more specifically, uses mobile devices. Who has phones? Who controls them? How do they use them? The answers to the questions below can be found by observing and asking the target audience directly. Secondary sources of information, such as reports published by implementing partners, research groups, or mHealth convening organizations, might uncover in-depth insights about the target population’s mobile phone use.


  • Describe the current technological access and practices of the end users. What is the level of technology knowledge and use? Will the proposed mHealth solution present a steep learning curve?
  • Explore the following dimensions of the target population’s mobile phone use and how each affects the usability of the proposed mHealth solution:
    • Generally, do individuals in the target population currently own mobile phones or share phones with others? What, if any, is the difference between men and women with regards to ownership or shared phones?
    • What kind of phones are members of the target population using (for example, a basic phone or a smart phone)?
    • Who pays for the phone? Who pays for the airtime? Do costs affect their use choices and patterns--for example, SMS vs. voice, carrying a balance, “call me” systems?
    • How long do people generally have the same mobile phone number? If they use subscriber identity module (SIM) cards, how many do they own, and how often do they switch between numbers?
    • How do people recharge their devices? If users do not have a reliable electricity source, how long do they go without recharging their phones?
    • Where do end users currently use mobile phones (for example, in their own homes or in public)?
    • How comfortable is the end user with using a mobile phone (which may also be referred to as mobile literacy)? Describe how the target audience uses the mobile phone (for example, voice, SMS, to access Internet)—and their level of comfort with each of these functions? How does literacy impact mobile phone use for this population (for example, do low-literate mobile phone users rely on a literate neighbor to read SMS)?
    • How do gender norms impact mobile phone use? For example, how are women perceived in the society if they own or use a mobile phone? Are women allowed to use the phone outside of the home?