We have 3GS and better. We have smartphones. We have relative affluence and multiple computing devices in the home. In short, US Internet users are not typical of the entire globe of humanity. In mobile, our reliance on multiple devices and the latest ones as well, may be keeping us from adopting true innovative marketing and utility for mobile.
Today's NYTimes features an article from Anand Giridharadashighlighting how the developing world innovates around mobile in ways that we here in the US overlook.We are all so taken with the recent text fundraising effort for Haiti. Meanwhile, the world has expanded its use of texting out of sheer necessity.
"A recent report by the World Economic Forum and Instead, the French business school, concluded that Americans rank below 71 other nations in their level of cellphone penetration, even though they lead in other areas of connectivity. Some Americans are not connected at all. Millions of others are beyond the phone, so to speak: though they own one and use it, they also own other devices, and the phone is not be-all-end-all"
There are lists of innovattive mobile uses:
"Plastic cards have become the reigning instruments of payment in the West, but projects like PesaPa l and M-Pesa in Kenyaare working to make the cellphone the hub of personal finance. M-Pesa lets you convert cash into cellphone money at your local grocer, and this money can instantly be wired to anyone with a phone."
2. community sermons recorded and distributed to hard-to-reach communities
3. uprisings in Iran and Moldova
4.and our own White House distributing a recent Presidential speech via text
A UN study points out that mobile usage will swell to 5 billion people and includes really helpful innovation.
"In the developing world, the growth has been driven by the use of phones for mobile banking and health services, the ITU said.(International Telecommunication Union )
"Good examples include sending reminder messages to patient's phones when they have a medical appointment, or need a pre-natal check-up," Toure said.
"Or using SMS messages to deliver instructions on when and how to take complex medication such as anti-retrovirals or vaccines," he said, adding that such uses can save millions of dollars and lives.
People with no bank accounts but mobile subscriptions are also increasingly able to do financial transactions with their phones in developing countries, he said."
While all of this innovation out of neccesity is happening in India, Africa and all over the globe, is the US going down some high-tech cul de sac driven by prosperity and gadget fever? Is this really the "year of mobile" (people have been using this title for the last 5 years) for the US? Seems like the rest of the world has been having successive years-of-mobile.
Here's how Anan puts it:
"But is desire replacing need as the mother of American inventions? Will domestic demand for ever sleeker, faster, fancier devices make it harder for Americans to innovate for the vaster, less opulent world outside, still dominated by frugal wants? Perhaps."
Additional content: Check out textually.org for great updates of global uses for mobile.