The fixed line phone "is a collective channel, a shared organisational tool, with most calls made 'in public' because they are relevant to the other members of the household."
Mobile calls are for last-minute planning or to co-ordinate travel and meetings.
Texting is for "intimacy, emotions and efficiency".
E-mail is for administration and to exchange pictures, documents and music.
Instant messaging and voice-over-internet calls are "continuous channels", open in the background while people do other things.
Conclusions reached by Stefana Broadbent, an anthropologist who leads the User Adoption Lab at Swisscom, Switzerland's largest telecoms operator as reported way back in June the Economist's 2007 Technology Quarterly. The study was based on observation, interviews, surveys of users' homes and asking people to keep logbooks of their communications usage across several European countries.
Also reported in the piece, entitled Home truths about telecoms:
80% of an individual's mobile communications are with the same four people
60% of men carry their cellphones in their pocket; 61% of women carry their phone in their handbags -- and women tend to miss 50% of their calls because of the difficulty of retrieving the phone from those dark depths
Not surprisingly, the frequency with which belt-pouches are used for carrying phones diminishes according to city's fashion sense: 31% of men used them in Ji Lin City; 19% use them in Beijing; 4% use them in Milan; and they're practically non-existent in Tokyo.
Of her research Broadbent commented: "The most fascinating discovery I've made this year is the flattening in voice communications and an increase in written channels."