End user context in analyzing mobile device and service usage

Tapio Soikkeli

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Mobile devices and services are becoming an inseparable part of the human life. These devices and services are used for communication, information retrieval, entertainment and much more. The additional value, as well as the challenges in the mobile services domain relate to its ubiquitous, or the "anywhere, anytime" properties. The convenience and constant accessibility of services available within arm's reach of the consumer is a compelling value proposition. On the other hand, the usage situations vary and the users have varying needs and possibilities in different situations. This variation calls for understanding the user behavior and the services to dynamically adapt to the users' situations. Context refers to any information that can be used to characterize the situation of the user, and thus the utilization of context is considered relevant to building better and more personalized mobile services. The purpose of this thesis is to study how to acquire and utilize information on the use context of a mobile end user from handset-based measurements and find out what general and contextual mobile device and service usage patterns the measurements reveal. The aim is to fill in a research gap in the intersection of small-scale empirical context-awareness research and market level mobile service usage research by leveraging the user-level, yet scalable nature of handset-based measurements. Handset-based measurements enable the collection of objective real life data on the usage of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, of opted-in study participants. In addition to handset-based measurements, surveys and network measurements were used as complementary methods.Mechanisms behind the observed mobile devices and services related user behavior are complex. In this thesis the general level mobile device and service usage is identified as communication and Web browsing oriented, occurring in bursts of activity and dominated by relatively short sessions. In addition, the usage varies between certain contexts. For example, the general home usage shows long but more infrequent usage sessions in comparison to other studied semantic places. The contextual results are, however, rather service specific. Finally, the largest variation is observed between users, with, for example, two magnitude differences in device usage intensity between light and heavy users. The results emphasize the need for personalized mobile services. The data collection capabilities of contemporary mobile devices enable diverse contextual information utilization for increasing the level of service personalization, for instance. Additionally, mobile devices provide more accurate tools for the more general human behavior research in the spirit of computational social science.
Translated title of the contributionKäyttökonteksti mobiililaitteiden ja -palveluiden käytön analysoinnissa
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Hämmäinen, Heikki, Supervising Professor
  • Hämmäinen, Heikki, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-6749-0
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-6750-6
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • handset-based measurements
  • context
  • mobile devices
  • mobile services
  • user behavior
  • multi-method


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