Do your mobile habits label you as a Cyborg, Centaur or Space Cowboy?

Mobile phones and digital devices are changing the way we socialize. As digital consumers, we have started to form "tribes" based on our learned mobile device behaviors.

According to a study conducted by Dr Massimiliano Mollona, a social anthropologist at Goldsmiths, University of London, in association with software company Amdocs, connected consumers fall into one of three "tribes:" Cyborgs, Centaurs, or Space Cowboys.

These "digital badges" are "evident in the way people tend to keep their device in their hand and answer calls in crowded places, regardless of whether this irritates the people they are with," explains Dr. Mollona.

Cyborgs tend to be the most connected of the bunch, with their hands constantly attached to their smartphone regardless of the situation.

The study reveals that consumers who fit into this avatar "embrace connectivity in all aspects of their life, including professional and personal spheres, across all devices and places, and are the most willing to pay a premium for services."

"They also demand the best possible customer experience, both in terms of quality of service delivery and the support they receive, and are the most willing to pay for it," says Dr. Mollona.

Centaurs, on the other hand, have placed fixed boundaries on their mobile device use with clear-cut divides between "personal" and "technological," and professional and social use. Centaurs will often have one device for work and another for their personal use.

"Interestingly Centaurs make heavier use of text messaging because text messages erode the above boundaries in a subtle way, perhaps also explaining why texting remains a popular service despite availability of mobile email," comments Dr. Mollona.

The avatar group wouldn't be complete without Space Cowboys, the technological nomads of the digital divide. These creatures are "individualistic and unpredictable and often switch devices and providers for both technological and economic reasons," says Dr. Mollona, and have "a functional attitude towards technology, using their mobile phones for their personal advantage rather than for increasing social interaction or connectivity."

While members of these three tribes are interacting with their devices in locations around the world, Cyborgs are typically found in Latin America and developing markets in Asia such as Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand. Large communities of Centaurs can be found in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. North America is home to the majority of Space Cowboys.

An additional insight from the study reveals that one quarter of all respondents "like taking calls in public, regardless of how much this irritates or surprises other people." According to Dr. Mollona, the urge stems from a desire to "demonstrate to others that they belong to a community."

The compulsion to stay connected through our mobile devices will only increase in the future. More than 70 percent of respondents expect to do more with their mobile device in the future; over two thirds of people can't wait until they can connect their device to their TV and/or car, while 54 percent want to have the ability to access their content from any device.

The survey was conducted with a sample size of 4,700 consumers of various age groups in 14 countries, spanning North and South America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.

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