Cell Phones Driving Business in the Developing World

May 24, 2008 11:05 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The explosion in mobile phone adoption worldwide has led to innovative uses that may revolutionize economic development in poor countries. 

30-Second Summary

In Liberia, a refugee wanted to add a land-mine detector to his cell phone so that he could safely return to his home village. In Mumbai, people want a phone that can forecast the weather. Muslims want a phone with a G.P.S. device so that they can direct their prayers to Mecca.

The New York Times profiles
Nokia’s globetrotting “human-behavior researcher” Jan Chipchase, whose job is to gather feedback from people in remote corners of the world to improve cell-phone design.  

Writer Sara Corbett says that “the possibilities afforded by a proliferation of cell phones are potentially revolutionary.”

Cell phones are now an essential part of people’s lives in the developing world, reported The Washington Post last year.

“Today, mobile phones are the primary form of telecommunication in most emerging economies, fulfilling much the same role as fixed-line phone networks did in facilitating growth in the United States and Europe after World War II.”

More than 1.15 billion mobile phones were sold worldwide in 2007, according to the market research firm Gartner in CNet News. The sum marked a 16 percent increase from the 990.9 million phones sold in 2006. Most of the growth was driven by sales in the developing world.

Western Union Corp. recently announced that it would make available a service that will let customers in the United States wire money to relatives in Latin America using their cell phones, according to The Houston Chronicle.

Headline Links: ‘Can the cell phone help end global poverty?’

Key Players: Jan Chipchase

Background: ‘Cell phones vital in developing world’

Related Topics: Wiring money by phone, growth in tech stocks, cell phones and the Internet

Reference: Rapid assessment of cell phones for development


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