As a technology enthusiast, I find it fascinating to see the rapid proliferation in cell phone adoption occurring in India. With 15.6 million new subscribers in March 2009 alone and 400 million total subscribers (constituting one-third of the country’s population), this hand-held device is revolutionizing the way that Indians communicate with each other, interact with the media, and even vote (!).
It’s amazing to see how India, like many other developing countries, has skipped land-line adoption and moved directly to cell phones. Interestingly, this phenomenon is not confined to upper socioeconomic bracket of India, with people in the slums and small towns having that “one device” as their constant digital companion. It seems that the country is also largely skipping desktop PC adoption and moving directly to mobile technology, finding ways to use the cell phone networks for data-like activities where no actual high-speed broadband (3G, Wi-Fi) exists. Just think what will happen as this trend continues to develop!
New York Times writer Anand Giridharadas also sees the transformative power of these devices, writing:
Imagine the future: a young woman sits on her sofa. With a few taps, she checks that her tax return has been cleared. With a few more, she learns that her local legislator is a criminal, and she switches to the other candidate. She wires a campaign contribution by text. And then she notices on television a debate on her favorite topic, and listens to the arguments and taps hurriedly into her phone words that will soon scroll across the screen.
As an unrepentant iPhone devotee, I can easily see how it is possible to perform a huge amount of communication and computing tasks with a mobile device, reducing the necessity for a desktop or laptop computer. This kind of device is liberating and transformative, and it will be fascinating to watch this rapid adoption of mobile technology worldwide shape how we communicate, learn, and even govern.