(via Gumsagumlao and anthropology.net ) It has become so commonplace to read about INTEL using anthropologists, that I've overlooked this news: INTEL in the process of hiring more than 100 anthropologists and other social scientists to work side by side with its engineers according to Technology Review.
The reason is simple: Anthropological research pays off - although Pat Gelsinger, a senior vice president at Intel, was sceptical in the beginning: "It's much harder to justify and measure the qualitative research."
Anthropologists had useful insights into a variety of emerging markets:
Intel viewed China and India as countries where people were simply too poor to buy its products -- until anthropologists showed them that extended families in Asia will invest in a PC if it's viewed as helping their children to succeed.
Intel has already released several products shaped by anthropological research:
In February 2005, it worked with a Chinese PC maker to release the China Home-Learning PC; and in October 2005 it launched the iCafe initiative in China, which involves a platform for improving how Internet café owners deploy and manage their technology. Intel has also repeatedly demonstrated early production versions of a Community PC, which is aimed at markets where infrastructure is not as well developed as in the West.
The rise of the anthropologists may come just in time for Intel. Its traditional Western markets are largely saturated, while many parts of the developing world use cell phones for e-mail and other forms of communication. And Intel's efforts to gain share in the cell-phone market have not been strong. Thus, developing new approaches to potentially huge markets like India and China may help Intel grow faster in the future.