Usage Patterns for Cameraphone Driven Moblogs
Usage Patterns for Cameraphone Driven Moblogs
1. Introduction Despite the significant penetration of
cameraphones, there has been sparse publicly-available analysis of
usage patterns. Usage may involve anything from the capture of images
for personal use (picture stays on the camera or is uploaded to a
user's PC), to person-to-person use (picture is e-mailed or messaged
to another individual), to person-to-web use (an instance of
moblogging). In this report we specifically address the last of these,
and describe a simple experiment run in late January of 2004 on public
data collected from a popular moblogging website*. We find
that while the median user takes 8 pictures in their first week (13.57
on average), the median number quickly drops to 1 picture a week
within a month of use (4 on average), and a median of 0 by week 5. For
reasons described below, we believe that these may also be
Between August and December of 2003 an occasional crawl was done on
the main moblog page for users that had posted new pictures. A list
of 2780 such users was assembled. In January 2004, user blogs were
crawled and postings (with dates) automatically extracted. During the
full crawl we discovered that a large number of users no longer had an
account. In total we were able to correctly crawl and extract
information from 1448 users. For each user, pictures were placed into
weekly buckets (bucket 0 representing the first full week that they
user used the service, bucket 1 the second, and so on).
Figure 1 depicts the distribution of pictures for each week until week
30. The boxplot illustrates the minimum (lower whisker), maximum
(upper whisker), as well as the first and third quartiles (the box).
We have also illustrated the median and average values which are
barely visible in the figure due to the extreme maximum. Figure 2 is
the same plot with the maximum whisker removed. Here the
average/median behavior is much more obvious.
While we have plotted the usage patterns to week 30, we caution that
data at the far end is noisy due to a small sampling size but is
consistent with the general trend. Figure 3 shows the number of users
in the sample that held accounts for different periods. While there
are 1448 users that used the service for at least 1 week, the number
drops off to 98 users by week 30 (i.e. ~7% of the users have had
accounts for more than 30 weeks).
It is very likely that the actual usage is in fact significantly lower than our data shows. This is for a number of reasons:
- Users who never posted a picture are not in the data set. Furthermore, if the user posted a single picture and our crawler did not capture that user's name, the user was not included in the experiment (as we have no way to determine that they exist).
- A number of users who had accounts sometime in the initial name collection stage, no longer had an account by January 2004. Arguably, from the time that these users stopped having an account, up until January 2004, these users would have posted no pictures. As we are unable to determine when the accounts were cancelled we opted not to include these individuals.
- Group moblogs, or non-cameraphone moblogs may also contribute to an overestimate. We believe that these users contribute to the extreme maximum postings. One user, who no longer has an account, posted 315 pictures in the first week. This clearly causes the average to be higher and indicates that the median may be more trustworthy.
The results clearly point at a problem in the moblogging space. We
have no reason to believe that there is anything flawed in this
particular website's design relative to other solutions that lead to
the behavior we see here.
We believe that the next step is to specifically understand why
user interest in moblogging falls off dramatically. We can
hypothesize that this may be related to design of the moblogging
services, or to issues with the actual device. For the service
providers such results should be indicate the need for better
incentives for the posting of content. These incentives can be
anything from a simple display of who and how many people are viewing
images, the ability to rank images, better social networking,
community formation, etc. More complex schemes would allow the
images posted on the moblog to be pushed out to other medium.
Integration into a user's blog or homepage is one existing example,
but others are possible as well.
While incentives can come from the service providers, device
manufacturers (and software vendors) have an opportunity to decrease
the costs of using moblogging services. While bad resolution and
image quality may diminish the desire to share an image, another major
issue is the large number of key presses from the time a picture is
taken to the posting. Users may be unwilling to deal with the hassle
of the interface beyond the first few pictures.
While only preliminary, we believe that the results of this study are
both a challenge and opportunity to service providers and device
manufacturers who can properly incent users and eliminate usage
Thanks to Josh Tyler for early data collection. And as always, Bernardo
Huberman for letting me explore new research spaces.
5. Further Readings
Last updated: May 9, 2004
*We have opted
to anonymize the name of the service provider. We feel that the
results are generally applicable and do not want to impact the
business operations of any site in particular. We feel that the site
is comparable to others in the space in size, users, and