Tech's roving R&D man
- November 29, 2010
- Jan Chipchase, IMTFI researcher, and Bill Maurer, anthropology professor and chair and IMTFI director, are featured in Fortune November 29, 2010
Jan Chipchase is the Indiana Jones of technology for the developing world. The British-born, Shanghai-based researcher travels the globe, trying to understand how and why the planet's poorest people would use cellphones and other gadgets. Part cultural anthropologist and explorer, and part designer and entrepreneur, Chipchase uses his findings to develop new products and services that can help improve commerce and life in remote and sometimes dangerous parts of the world, such as Accra, Ghana, or Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Chipchase, 40, earlier this year joined San Francisco consultancy Frog Design to help the firm better understand the needs of consumers in the developing world -- people that Frog's clients (Disney (DIS), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), and Dell (DELL), to name a few) are eager to serve. Before leaping to Frog, Chipchase spent more than a decade at Finnish phonemaker Nokia (NOK) studying users in far-flung emerging markets. "He was one of the first people to write about the use of airtime as a form of currency," says Bill Maurer, an anthropology professor at the University of California at Irvine. Chipchase documented Uganda's sente system, in which villagers transfer money across distances by buying and passing along cellphone minutes. Vodafone (VOD), the U.K.-based mobile-phone operator, later launched a similar money service in Kenya with a local partner.
For the full story, please visit http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2010/11/29/techs-roving-rd-man/.