Skip to main content

Adoption of Cell Phones and the Driving Effects

I’m always told that I was born in the wrong generation, and depending on the situation, I take it as either criticism or a compliment. In this case, I consider this claim a compliment. Our generation is quickly becoming the most tech-savvy, iPhone-loving, and social media-craving people ever to walk this earth. Every day, it’s frustrating to see how peers can’t commit to a one-on-one conversation without constantly checking their phone, sending quick texts, or updating their social media. This I attribute to an adopted behavior from others that rapidly diffused to almost completely encompass an entire generation. To investigate how this cascade formed so quickly, I backtracked to the first study addressing the social aspects of cell phone diffusion by James E. Katz in 1997. The purpose of this investigation was to identify what drove people to adopt cell phones as their major mode of communication. In terms of this course, Katz suggested that there were types of effects that drove the cascade of adoption, with the behavior being the use of a cell phone. Katz summarized his results by ordering these effects in the following categories: first order, second order, and third order. Uncertainty reduction is an example of a first order effect in Katz’ terms, but in our terms would be considered an informational effect, where non-users can infer from users how cells phones enable us to manage appointments and schedule changes more efficiently. This information leads to the switch from non-user to user based on inferred information. Similarly, an example of a second order effect in Katz’ terms is information immediacy, which in our terms is also an informational effect, where non-users can see how much faster users can receive information when they are mobile. This inferred information leads to the adoption of cell phone use. An example of Katz’ third order effects is social interaction, which in our terms is a direct benefit effect because users directly benefit from increased cell phone usage due to the increased social interactions when distant from one another. This direct benefit drives people to adopt the use of a cell phone in order to increase social interaction. As you can see, Katz’ ordered effects are analogous to our knowledge of cascade adoptions via informational and direct benefit effects.
Bringing this backtracked information to my current frustration, we can analyze how these effects are also relevant to the increased usage of cell phones as an extension of the person in our generation. This cascade seems to have hit its limit in our generation, or so it seems, because I know that I am not the only one with hesitance and frustration with constant cell phone usage. It’s fascinating to think about the possibility of this cascade being completed in the future, as it seems it is moving into the next generation. Also interesting, is the fact that since Katz’ observations, it seems that the adoption of using cell phones was driven by both informational and direct benefit effects, but is now solely driven by direct benefit effects. Thus, social interaction is the main reason to adopt cell phones as your personal extension. As Katz predicted, “what started as a business tool has become a means to prove one’s personal life.”

Source Used: Katz, J.E., 1997. Social and organizational consequences of wireless communications: a selective analysis of residential and business sectors in the United States. Telematics and Informatics 14 (3), 223–256


Leave a Reply

Blogging Calendar

November 2014
« Oct   Dec »