5 billion mobile phones by the end of 2010 -- but where are the apps and games?
To put this into perspective: there are only 7 billion souls on this planet. That means 71% of the entire world has a mobile phone -- a computer, a potential lifeline -- in their pocket.
As you'd expect, those missing 2 billion are mostly from the developing and third world, namely Africa and the Asia-Pacific regions. But those are also the areas of fastest growth -- just last year, India and Indonesia have connected 150 million new phones. If adoption continues at such a rate, which it surely must, we will soon have a world where everyone, except newborn children, has a mobile phone in their pocket.
But where is the software? Where are the games?
There are families with 10 children, living in mud huts with no running water -- but they have a mobile phone. Instead of water wells dotting the horizon there are telephone pylons. Try to get your head around this picture: a child, unfed and uneducated, slumped against a ramshackle outhouse somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. He's playing Snake on his Nokia phone.
Now, I'm sure running water and schooling would be a better long-term solution, but wouldn't it be great if people living tough lives in even tougher conditions had a better array of games and apps on their 'dumbphone'?
We're pouring billions of dollars into 3D games and gee-whiz apps that simulate the drinking of beer or the sound of a pistol being fired. What if we spent a little more on text-based educational games for children, or apps that assist in agricultural planning? How about an English-Their Language dictionary? The Bible?
I don't actually know what games and apps would be well-received in developing countries. Nokia, Ericsson, LG and Samsung, please find out. You might not make a lot of money, but you would be doing the world a huge favor.