The majority of the now 2.5+ billion mobile subscribers are located in developing countries. This is a stunning new kind of event for our planet: the dominance of leading edge technology is emerging from marginalized places. That has not happened before, particularly on the enormous scale of the mobiles.
The more advanced mobile phone features of email and web browsing will bring the digital, Internet commons to areas where such access had been limited to precious few wired computers. The fact that in undeveloped areas mobile phones leapfrog over the stringing of wires for telephone landlines is well recognized. But there is a bigger frog getting ready to jump. Once the mobile phones are operational in an area, the eventual arrival there of more featured phones will leapfrog the need for installation of stationary computers. This time the leap will be completely over the digital divide.
Two projects that have caught this vision are worth your time. One is the EPROM work toward representing the new majority in planning mobile phone future development, as I posted about earlier this week. The second is the W3C Workshop on the Mobile Web in Developing Countries to be held in Bangalore, India December 5/6, 2006.