There seems to be no doubt that the mobile has been a tool for social and economic development in the bottom of the pyramid segment and in developing nations. Research results available online show similar findings from Africa to India to the Middle East all the way to Latin America.
However, this is the mobile in its current role as a productivity tool, a communications device, a telephone if you will. What would it take to make it a post industrial platform? For innovation, for value, for wealth creation? How would it leap forward to empower the disadvantaged?
Currently, applications such as GrameenPhone’s Healthline in Bangladesh, Wizzit’s m-banking in South Africa, or MobilEd’s research into school education, are making a difference to the lives of their customers. In concrete terms.
Tracing the conversation about M-Wallet, a service to be/have been launched by Motorola shows first mention in Engadget in February 2006, followed by discussions around it few months later that same year. On Google News today there seems to be an article dated March 31st 2007 that brings up the various barriers to entry for such a system. I could be wrong but prospects look bleak.
The bottom of the pyramid will have to show the way forward. There are no fallback systems, no legacies, nothing that exists that connects them to the larger internetworked webworld [call it what you will, online suffices for me] the way that I can today.
What could be the potential of such bridge? I’d best go before I start repeating myself. ;p