More interesting to me, in light of some recent thoughts on the role that mobile phones are playing, and will continue to play, in the development – whether economic or infrastructural – of emerging markets. From the Beeb,
UK users account for 65% of Wap traffic; and international usage for 35%. Mobile phone providers in many African countries have only recently begun rolling out Wap-enabled handsets.
And the large take up of BBC news via mobiles in Nigeria contrasts starkly with the relatively small number of users accessing the internet via pcs – hampered by slow and unreliable landlines.
"Wap is the one platform where African countries continue to appear in the top five in our statistics," said BBC developer Gareth Owen.
Africa is the world’s largest-growing mobile phone market with unreliable landlines encouraging the growth. .
According to the article, for some, this is often the only source of news from the world, given a choice between spending a finite sum on either a TV, a radio or the more versatile cellphone.
This made me think about that other ‘bridge’ across the digital divide, the $100 laptop, in the news again, on a ‘crusade’ to connect children. Apparently, India turned down the OLPC offer, but Thailand has just announced their approval and support.
SciDev has a comprehensive analysis of the different solutions developed for this problem, their respective merits and possible future directions.
Another criticism is that the latest initiatives focus too much on low cost instead of the technology’s appropriateness. "Focusing on price alone is a distraction from the essential goal, which should be technologies that meet the actual needs of people in local communities," says Rochdi.
Several initiatives in the past decade introduced computers to schools and public offices with negligible gains in productivity, meaning "you end up paying much more than you saved on the technology," she adds.
She is also concerned about the little attention paid to local languages.
What if… a mobile phone with access to the internet is provided instead to every child?