Is the U.S., the country we consider as home of gadgets, really so up-to-date in mobile innovation as we think? According to the recent report by the World Economic Forum and Instead, the French business school, Americans stay below 71 other countries in the mobile penetration.
“We have 3GS and better. We have smartphones. We have relative affluence and multiple computing devices in the home. In short, US Internet users are not typical of the entire globe of humanity. In mobile, our reliance on multiple devices and the latest ones as well, may be keeping us from adopting true innovative marketing and utility for mobile “, states John Bell in his blog “The Digital Influence Mapping Project”.
The Nordics have used the mobile tax paying systems already for years as well as micropayments through mobile to pay the groceries, transportation tickets, etc. However, also in countries where technology is hard to come by, mobile innovation thrives. The developing world has started innovating around mobile in ways that U.S. might ignore. A UN study declares that “In the developing world, the growth (…in mobile usage…)has been driven by the use of phones for mobile banking and health services”. For example, projects like PesaPa l and M-Pesa in Kenya allow people with no bank accounts but mobile subscriptions to do financial transactions with their phones, SMS can be used to send reminder messages to patient’s phones when they have a medical appointment or to give instructions how and when to take complicated medicine.
So what can we learn from this? If you’re looking for mobile solutions, don’t concentrate on U.S., but look around the world. The innovation in developing countries is mostly coming out of necessity, which makes Africa, India, central Asia, and other developing areas use mobile phones in very interesting ways.