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This paper presents ethnographic observations, a diary study and a large-scale quantitative questionnaire (n=395) designed to study the reasons for adoption and refusal of context-aware mobile applications. Through a qualitative study we identify 24 user needs that these applications fulfill and 9 barriers for adoption. We found that for many of the identified needs the end-goal is not that of receiving information, thus complementing work on mobile information needs. Also, this work offers an actionable list of obstacles that prevent contextual services to reach a larger audience. Finally, our findings suggest the opportunity to develop novel mobile applications that fulfill needs in the activity and personal contextual dimensions, and that of developing an application store for feature phones.