Paper idea: patterned mobile phone

This is one of the three mobile phones HTC just released. The company plans to have more patterned mobile phones become available in the market in the near future.


I have not seen mobile phone like this in America. In Asia, where lots of people are crazy about knowing and buying mobiles that just enter the market, mobile companies keep updating the design of mobile phones. I notice that there are more companies who focus on not only the various function, but also the appearance of the phone recently. In this year, Motorola held a mobile patterning competition in Taiwan, in order to inspire creative ideas for mobile design. This is work of the first prize.


I would like to analyze if the phenomenon contributes to the sustainable use of mobile phone by applying some concepts we learn in class. Do these products tell us who are the targeting user groups? Are these products a kid of experience design? What experience they would like to communicate? Is the experience durable? I am trying to figure out several specific concepts I would like to use to analyze patterned mobile phone. I will do some prewritting to clarify it. Is the topic ambiguous? I have no idea if it is narrowed down and could be further developed. And is “patterned” the right word to describe these mobiles? (forgive my poor English.:P)


  1. jeffreybardzell

    Americans are definitely behind East Asia when it comes to cell phones (the iPhone being a hiccup in that). Certainly, Americans don’t personalize or accessorize their phones like people in Japan, Taiwan, China, and Korea (and presumably elsewhere across Asia) do. To me, that suggests that the two sets of populations relate themselves to their cell phones in different ways. In the US, cell phones are more utilitarian, while in Asia, they are more expressive. This difference may, in turn, have implications for sustainability.

    On a side note: one area where Americans are starting to decorate their electronic accessories is the Guitar Hero phenomenon. A number of commercial “faceplates” are available for your plastic guitar, for instance, the following:

    And then, of course, I can’t help but point out that amateurs do it better! Check out this blog post (with pictures) on a Super Mario guitar faceplate.

    Does anyone else find it funny to see Guitar Hero with its hard rock aesthetic juxtaposed with Super Mario? End of side note.

    To respond to your questions at the end of your post, Yenning, I think these are all reasonable questions. There are a number of them, and it’s not clear how they all relate to each other. If you were to pursue this, I would encourage you to to eliminate some of the questions, so that your topic explores “whether custom mobile phone faceplates enhance sustainability for user group X” or “how mobile phone faceplates extend and improve the mobile phone experience.” Or, you could relate the two together into a more complex research question: “Could improving the experiential aspect of mobile phones via faceplates encourage their users to hold onto them longer?”

    The hard part, of course, is designing a research approach that would answer these questions (especially the last one, which might make a good capstone, but might be very hard to do for a final paper in a class). Anyway, this is a great start (with excellent pics!), so keep working on these ideas!

  2. davidroyer

    oh man – i want one of those cell phones…

  3. yenning

    Jeff, After I read the three questions you brought up, my mind told me to choose the third one. (because it is the topic I would like to research.) But my heart broke after reading your words in the last paragraph. Does it mean that I have to change my capstone topic? T_T My question is, if I go for the first one “whether custom mobile phone faceplates enhance sustainability for user group X” , is it a good idea to use structuralism explore only designer’s intention and the design itself? I mean to study the product and see if it provides the possibility of sustainable use for user group X, rather than put more focus on the lifewrold of user group X.

    by the way, I like Mario one better. 😀

    David, I will get some from Taiwan and sell you in higher price.


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