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Intel embraces cultural difference

Heather Sparks

asian cellphones

We expected Intel to be interested in materials science, but anthropology? Apparently an anthropologist working for the semiconductor giant is putting the finishing touches on a three-year study of how Asian families interact with technology. The anthropologist, Genevieve Bell, lived with families in seven Asian countries and found Chinese people take their mobile phones to temples to be blessed (check), Muslims use their cellphones to locate Mecca (check), and other cultures burn paper cell phone offerings for their ancestors to use in the next world. Bell's anecdotes will enable Intel to create "cultural profiles" to help design teams come up with new product ideas. The study counteracts Intel's earlier ideas that a global middle class was emerging in Asia who use consumer electronics the same way the Western world does. Where they ever got that idea, we're not sure, being that China is one of the largest, poorest nations in the world.

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