Each year the Mobile World Congress is held in Barcelona, Spain. This year the event begins on Sunday, February 26th and runs for one week. All of the major OEMs and software companies use the even to highlight their newest models and vie for the attention of first adopters and tech bloggers who can’t wait to get their hands on quad-core Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) phones. Microsoft is also using this even to launch the consumer preview of their latest operating system, Windows 8.
However, this year’s MWC may feature a few announcements that have nothing to do with quad-core processors and Super AMOLED+ screens and are much more relevant to lower income phone users. For example, the Windows Phone 7 update “tango” is aimed at devices with lower-end specifications. This means that Nokia, who has been pervasive in emerging markets, will now be targeting smartphone models to lower-income users, particularly those in Brazil and India where it has a strong presence. Google’s Android operating system is also likely to gain a few new phones that can be marketed to low-income consumers.
There is no denying that smartphones will change the landscape of ICT as they enter developing countries, it is simply a matter of how long it will take to make them feasible.
So keep an eye on MWC 2012!
In this TED presentation, a researcher from Nokia touches on a common use of mobile phones in Uganda–a use that is essentially unheard of in the United States. This is exemplary of the manner in which ICT has a multitude of potential functions that designers or original users may never have thought of or believed to be pertinent. If ICT is to be implemented truly 4D, the potential benefits of the consumers in developing regions must be considered, regardless of the utility of a given application in external contexts. Take a look at the video and see one way in which mobile phones are used in Uganda–I think you will be surprised!
Bridgeit is an eLearning project funded by USAID which was implemented in 2007 in Tanzania. It underwent a 2-year piloting period with a 15-month extension and ended in late December of 2010. The purpose of the program was to implement ICT by means of mobile phone usage to improve the classroom teaching and learning experience. Bridgeit allowed Tanzanian teachers to download videos on various relevant subjects, such as math, science and HIV/AIDS, to cell phones. The mobile phones were connected to a television set which projected the videos for the class to see. The project was highly successful and well-supported by the community. It enabled the students taught in that manner to gain a better understanding of the material by being able to visualize it instead of simply listening to a theoretical explanation. The project’s benefits were that it was designed to be student-centered learning; it supported the teachers to enhance the learning experience; it employed a good teaching strategy for large class sizes (as those in Tanzania); and the visual aspect inspired greater interest and motivation on behalf of the students. As of April of this year, the project has helped 80,000 children and 3,000 teachers. In my opinion, Bridgeit‘s greatest strength is the infrastructure it created for itself. The project partnered with Tanzania’s Ministry of Education, the Nokia Corporation, the Nokia Institute for Technology, the Pearson Foundation, and Vodacom Tanzania. That’s an incredible setup. With so many partners, each playing a crucial role in the success or failure of the project and all working towards a common goal, Bridgeit was fully supported simply because it was able to draw on all the resources it needed from its partners.
Click here to learn more about Bridgeit in Tanzania.