Published on January 21st, 2009 | by Arsalan Mir4
Making Technology Accessible for Everyone…!
By Hamza Zafar
The mobile market seems to be developing by leaps and bounds across the globe, especially in the developing countries, where the use of mobile phones were not very common. New mobile markets like Pakistan, India, Brazil etc contributed widely to the growth of this sector. But still today, more than 70% mobile phone users worldwide do not make the most out of their phone. The main reasons behind this are awareness and lack of resources. A large majority makes its basic use only, i.e. Calling, while some others enjoy the benefits, like MP3 player, camera etc. Truth is that very few people in developing countries know much about mobile Internet. This scenario is not similar in European and Western countries, and the main reason for this is that majority of the people living there use mobile phones which can also be called mini-computers or well-equipped hand-held devices. They have everything, from text messaging to online streaming video access, but such privileges are not available to majority in the third world countries. The real reason behind this might be termed as ‘awareness’, but that’s not always true, since there are people who want to have all these facilities on their palm, but since they can’t afford such phones, they end-up using a low-end phone. If some of them manage to buy a feature-rich phone, they have to pay for expensive software to make the most out of it.
Now what’s the future of such people? How to make technology so cheap that everyone, from a company’s peon to CEO can have access to it? How to bridge this inevitable digital divide?
The answer of these questions are the indication of a BIG mobile revolution awaiting for us. How? Lets see.
Currently, we have iPhone and Nokia mobiles, which are considered top notch from every aspect. Other companies including BlackBerry and several others are not considered as good as them, especially the hot-baked iPhone with its apps. The normal prices of these high-end phones start above US$350, which could go upto $700 or more (You can buy a good laptop in that price with dual processors).
People living in third world countries have an average monthly income of $400-$900 (I’m talking about average) and its very obvious that they can’t afford such phones, its applications and their carrier packages, so they don’t buy it. They don’t buy it, so they also don’t come to know about the potential which lies in it, or how it can help them. So, to make technology available to everyone, Chinese mobile phones are a very good solution.
Chinese mobiles can be considered as a blessing for those who have low budget for their phones. Within US$90, you get a phone that has a web-browser using EDGE, 2.0MP Camera, games, Touch-Screen (3.5 inch), Bluetooth, FM Radio and countless apps.
Sounds good, isn’t it? But what about the software? We have everything we need in Hardware with the blessing of Chinese technology but we definitely need a good OS and some worthy application to spice up the mobile experience. The software that come with the phone or are supported are not worth using, and most of the time they end-up crashing the whole system.
This is the place where Android could kick in. Yes, Android. T-Mobile is currently selling Android phones for hundreds of dollar, the major advantage you get from this is that all applications, including its operating system is not only free, but far powerful then Leopard 10, which iPhone uses. So, if the Android gets compatible with the $90 Chinese phone, consider the possibilities that could happen. People across the globe, rich or poor, with or without resources, would be able to get their hands on a $90 (or less) phone with web-browsing, camera, Bluetooth, touch-screen, Android open source platform, document editing and I don’t know what else.
All these massive helpful tools, wrapped up in a small touch-screen mobile with a price tag of $90 will create a big dent on Nokia, apple and other vendors, but our huge digital divide, between the developed and developing nations, or rich and poor people will shrink by a large means. All we need is someone, who could provide communication between the Chinese mobile manufactures and Android developers, and If that someone is Google itself, then believe me that iPhone would be doomed with all its apps.
So, the equation of future is,
Chinese phones + Android
Digital Divide Bridged!
The writer, Hamza Zafar, is a telecom undergraduate student at NUCES-FAST and can be reached at mail2hamza [at] gmail [dot] com.