Sunday, January 17, 2010


Two items in the news recently caught my eye.

The first is in an article in the independent which suggests that human being's innate fondness for drunken revelry was the catalyst for the civilisation of prehistoric man. Ironic, considering how, in modern society, alcohol is what reduces perfectly normal people to the level of apes. While I don't question/doubt the veracity and authenticity of the author's scholarly work (I do not possess the background knowledge for such a task), I do find it's conclusion rather amusing.

The other article that piqued my interest is right up my alley of interest; technology and cellphones. The article reports that Gartner predicts cellphones will overhaul computers as the preferred gateway to the internet by 2013. While this would seem like an obvious statement to those who have observed the industry in recent times (especially the staggering success of the iPhone), the consequences are profound - especially in developing countries.

It is worthwhile to remember the importance of the internet in our lives. For the vast majority of users, most of their time on a computer is spent on the internet (outside of work). Thus, this prediction means that mobile phones will be THE dominant computing platform halfway through the decade. So far, laptops and desktops have enjoyed this position. They have had pride of place in the hierarchy of household consumer electronics, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with the venerable television. The humble cellphone has slowly but surely risen through the ranks and now stands at the threshold of dominance.

Ignore that rather stupid analogy ;) The point is, cellphones are always with us and that in itself is a huge advantage. In recent times, improved user interfaces, interaction methods and greater processing power has made it possible for us to realistically use cellphone for extensive internet browsing, not just an occasional read (as was the case in the past). The introduction of the iPhone was the watershed moment. And I say this not as an apple fanboy, but as someone who has never owned an iPhone. Credit where credit is due. The iPhone was a game changer; it turned cellphones into miniature computers.

I will comment more about the implications of this seismic shift to developing countries in a future post, for that is where the impact will be the greatest.