Though the article title is perhaps optimistic, Salon’s recent “Smartphones Bust up the Digital Divide” provides a succinct outline of some numerical evidence of the recent global explosion of smartphone usage as well as its potential benefits in the developing world. The article cites data which states that in December of 2012, 23% of global website visits were conducted via mobile device, and this number continues to climb. Though it’s difficult to establish the exact effects that smartphones have had on the digital divide to date, Andrew Leonard points out the incredible advantages in efficiency offered by mobile devices and suggests that these benefits can and will be exploited on an ever-more-global scale. The article also cites Bill Clinton’s recent speech at the Consumer Electronics show (which has drawn negative attention for statements regarding gun control) in which he emphasized the economic and social benefits of Internet access via smartphone in developing countries. Though the William J Clinton Foundation has not previously demonstrated a focus on ICT4D, public endorsement by such a widely respected figure marks an important step for the field.
Another important statistic to note is that holiday PC sales fell this winter for the first time in 5 years, highlighting the ongoing paradigm shift in the field of computing and info tech. Indeed, the article mentions several times the “implosion of the now ancient desktop/laptop regime.” That being said, I’m not convinced that pocket-sized smartphone devices will ever fully eclipse the use of larger desktop computers for things like word processing and textual research. Cool stuff, though.